Pigeons are one of the oldest domesticated birds in human history. A majority of us must have fed pigeons, at some time or other. However, we are mostly unaware of the dietary habits of these birds and feed them whatever is available.
When you see your pet pigeon-eating insect, you might try to pull it out of the beak, but sometimes it’s too late and your pigeon loos at you in amazement, saying, “what is wrong.?” It might make you wonder if pigeons can eat insects? Is there any harm?
A small google search throws up questions such as what pigeons eat, do pigeons eat insects, and what to feed pet pigeons? It is helpful to have a basic understanding of the feeding habits of pigeons if you intend to adopt one or just for knowledge.
What do Pigeons Eat?
A healthy adult pigeon requires 30 grams of food daily. To stay healthy, a pigeon should have a diverse diet that provides the necessary proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats. They need different nutrients at different stages of their life. For example, pigeons need additional calcium during the egg-laying period, a balanced diet when they are young or stressed, etc. Some foods that are beneficial to these birds are
- A healthy mix of grains and seeds such as wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, peas and vetch.
- Fruits and vegetables such as apples, cherries, bananas, carrots, etc. chopped into fine pieces
- Dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, etc.
- Commercial pigeon food such as pellets and grains
- Meat and insects occasionally
- Human food such as cooked or uncooked rice, pasta, bread etc.
- Fresh and clean water
Do pigeons eat insects?
Pigeons are primarily herbivorous birds that feed on berries, fruits, seeds, and grains. They also eat human food and pet food. However, when there is the unavailability of sufficient food, they may also take to eating insects, worms, and snails.
Eating worms and insects is beneficial to pigeons. It provides them with sufficient protein and fat that helps them to be strong and healthy.
Why Do Pigeons Eat Insects?
Pigeons are open to every type of food, provided it fills their stomach. Like humans, who shifted to grains from meat due to their availability, pigeons also believe in survival and if it comes from insects, it is welcome.
While a pigeon in the wild is eating and there is work, they will eat it. And why not? They are not allergic to them.
It is a common misconception that pigeons in the wild and in captivity eat different things. But it is not so. If the wild pigeons don’t find grains, they can easily find insects and feed on them.
While city life presents ample opportunities for the pigeons to taste different food items. They can feed on grains, fruits, leftover human food, and insects such as worms, bugs, spiders, flies, etc.
Do Pigeons Prefer Insects Over Grains?
No. Pigeons are herbivores, prima facie. So, if they find grains or human food, they would rather eat it than hunt for insects. Remember, pigeons have the natural instinct to survive and when they need protein for their diet before laying eggs, they may eat insects, but won’t die without eating them.
What To Do If My Pigeon Eat Insects?
Do not worry if your pigeon eats insects. They are not harmful. There are benefits of eating bugs, worms, and small insects as they are full of protein. Sometimes, pigeons deliberately eat insects to fulfill the need for protein in their body. But since your pet pigeons eat lots of grains and seeds, you need not worry.
An insect is a rich source of protein. It is more protein-rich than meat. 100 grams of insects contain up to 32 grams of protein. Also, they are rich in fat, iron, and other nutrients which is good for your bird.
Should I Feed Insects to My Pet Pigeon?
Though pigeons eat insects occasionally, when they are easily available or when there is a lack of food, they do not like meat and insects.
Your pet pigeon will get its dose of proteins and fats from the bird feed pellets. These pellets are manufactured to suit the diverse requirements of the birds during different stages of their life. So there is no need to feed insects and worms separately.
Pigeons love human food. You can feed your pet with tiny bite-sized portions of meat and dairy, or whatever your family has for dinner. It helps your pigeon to grow healthy and keeps it away from diseases.
If your pet pigeon is not caged, it will manage to get hold of tiny insects and worms, which are not easily noticeable to the human eye. They are game to catch hold of easy prey such as snails, insects, and worms.
Though the answer to do pigeons eat insects is, “yes”, it does not mean that you have to feed insect-infested seeds and grains to pigeons. Insects eat away the seeds from inside and destroy the nutrients present in them. Moreover, a large dose of insects may cause disease in these birds.
Can Pigeons Survive On An Insect Diet?
No, Pigeons can’t survive solely on insects. Their natural food is grains, seeds, fruits, veggies, and other vegetarian food. Without it, they can’t survive. They can eat insects for a while, but then they will need a proper diet. A complete insect diet can infect a pigeon and may cause its death if a balanced diet is not offered. In both urban and wild areas, there is plenty of food for pigeons, so let’s hope they don’t face a day where there are only insects to eat.
Can Baby Pigeons Eat Insects?
Baby Pigeons don’t leave their nest for almost 6 weeks after birth. They are fed by their parents. For the first 8-0 days, they survive on crop milk.
After it, their parents start feeding them grains and other seeds which are essential for their growth. Besides, insects are hard to digest and baby pigeons are not strong enough to do it.
If your pet pigeon has laid eggs. You need not offer the young hatchlings any food for 10 days of their life. When they start eating, offer them crushed grains and seeds as they may not swallow whole grains.
Keep them away from insects. Once they are out of the nest and exploring, they might find out on their own that insects are tasty and they can eat them.
So, pigeons eat insects, but it depends on a pigeon’s mood if he wants to eat them or not. Don’t force your pigeon to eat those little creatures. Let pigeons explore if they find insects tasty or not.