Can Pigeons Eat Bread?

Pigeons are members of the family Columbidae having a plump body structure with stubby neck and lightweight feathers. Pigeons are quite common in their surroundings and are also considered good pets. They are not picky eaters and can swallow anything that they found chewable in the surrounding. Some of the common things that pigeons eat are different types of seeds, parts of plants, small insects, and animals.

Can pigeons consume  bread? 

Intro Video - Backtobirds x
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Pigeons and other birds of the Columbidae family can easily eat bread. Bread is easily chewable and satiates the taste buds as well. Pigeons can also eat bread with milk and sometimes even mixed with nuts and other foods.

But it is not advised to feed bread to the pigeons as it can have some negative effects on the bird’s health.

Why Bread is harmful for pigeons?

  • Bread is a plain source of carbohydrates and does not contain any vital nutrients that can help in the growth and development of the bird. Feeding bread and bread products will deprive the pigeon of this much-needed macro and micronutrient causing many deficiency diseases to the bird.
  • Feeding food that is deprived of nutrients can also weaken the immune system of the pigeon. It will make the bird susceptible to many infectious and non-infectious diseases.
  • It is filling. Pigeons that eat bread will get full faster than pigeons who eat seeds and insects or other food they find in the wild. This might seem like a noble goal, but if they’re not getting the nutrients they need, feeding them bread will do more harm than good.
  • It could be a choking hazard. Sometimes people tear off a piece of bread that’s too big for the bird to swallow. If they do manage to swallow it, the bread might get stuck in their intestinal tract.
  • It can become moldy. The bread that’s thrown on the ground might not always get eaten right away. Bread molds quickly, therefore if a pigeon eats the piece after it has become moldy, the bird might get very sick.
  • You’ll be contributing to their dependence upon humans. Pigeons are excellent at scavenging in the wild, however, once they become accustomed to being fed in the park, they can lose the ability to do so. It is best to allow the birds to do what they naturally do, and that is finding their own food in the wild.

What Should a Pigeon Eat?

A pigeon actually has a wide range of foods it can eat to be a healthy bird. If you have pigeons at the park you want to feed, consider more healthy options.

Related Read: What not to feed pigeons?

  • Fruits and vegetables – Believe it or not, pigeons love potatoes if they’re chopped finely enough. Veggies such as iceberg lettuce chopped finely is perfect for pigeons due to its high water content. 
  • Seeds and nuts – Considering what a pigeon might find in the wild, seeds and nuts that drop from trees are a perfect alternative to bread.
  • Insects and earthworms – Pigeons are like all other normal birds who love to eat creepy-crawlies. Perhaps you might not want to feed them insects at the park, but for anyone who has pigeons as pets, this is an excellent source for healthy nutrition.
  • If you own pet pigeons at your home or on a farm, feeding them with palette food is also an amazing alternative. Palette is food for pigeons that contains a mix of different grains and foods to have a balanced nutritional index. It is considered highly beneficial for the bird’s health.
  • In case of weakness or post-illness recovery, you can also feed mineral and vitamin supplements to aid the recovery of the bird. They should be given only when required and frequent dosage should be prohibited.

Foods that you should not give to your pigeons

Avoid giving salt to pigeons

Salt is a potential dehydrating agent. In the months of summer giving salt to the pigeon can dehydrate it and can cause severe weakness. It is advised to monitor the intake of salt in pigeon food to a minimum.

Avoid leftover food

It is a human tendency that many pet owners or bird feeders will share the leftover food with pigeons or other birds. The pigeon may fall sick by eating leftover food as it may be spoiled or have bacterial and fungal growth in it.

Avoid giving caffeine containing products

It is strictly advised not to give anything that contains caffeine in it. Giving coffee and tea to your pigeon should be avoided in any case. The little amounts of caffeine causing no harm to us can be deadly for the pigeon as it can trigger a cardiac arrest or high blood pressure.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, bread is bad news for pigeons and other wild birds. There is hardly any nutritional value, it is too filling, it is a choking hazard, and there is the potential to make pigeons sick if the bread happens to be moldy.

Not only that, but it could end up making the birds co-dependent upon people, and if people stop feeding them, they won’t know how to scavenge for themselves. The next time you’re at the park, be sure to bring some finely chopped fruits and veggies or an assortment of small nuts and seeds.

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