Do Pigeons Eat Meat?

Pigeons are designated as Herbivores which means they are naturally planted and plant-based food consumers. But, having lived in the wild and having lived alongside humans for over 10,000 years, they have started consuming food based on availability and locality. 

Yes. Pigeons eat meat. Their digestive systems are capable of digesting a variety of foods, including meat-based options.

In the wild, pigeons often stick to vegetation and berries. They may snack on the occasional worm. Urban pigeons, however, have evolved to eat whatever they can find. 

How will the Pigeons eat?

Birds do not possess teeth. Predatory birds such as eagles use their sharp beaks and talons to shred meat sources into easy-to-swallow pieces.

Pigeon’s beaks aren’t suited for ripping apart their meals, but they are incredibly smart creatures. Pigeons pick up objects with their beaks and slam them against stationary objects to break the food into pieces.

When the intended meal is in small enough pieces to fit into their beaks, the food is swallowed and traveled down to the esophagus before landing in its stomach.

Birds possess a second chamber of their stomach called a gizzard. Gizzards are incredibly strong, muscular structures that contract to grind food down into smaller pieces.

Some birds even swallow sand or small rocks to assist their stomach in grinding up the food. Effective digestive systems make it easy for pigeons to eat meat when necessary.

What Kind of Meat Do Pigeons Eat?

Pigeons can eat any form of meat that will fit in their beaks when they want. So you can feed pigeons with a very tiny amount of lean meat cooked well or small-sized fish.

Fish are a popular source of food for urban pigeons that reside near a body of water. Considering that they don’t possess talons as falcons do, they will not be able to pick up hefty fish.

Pigeons can only pick up and fly with 10% of their body weight. However, they can eat small fish that swim close to the shore.

City pigeons these days can eat any meat scrap that humans discard. They’ve been known to eat fried chicken, hamburgers, and meatballs.

Pigeons can feast on other pigeons if the meat is separated from the flesh. For instance, if a pigeon was hit by a car, other pigeons may flock to scrounge up and eat the pieces apart from the body.

However, if a pigeon encounters an intact corpse, it won’t bother eating it. While these species possess the digestive system to process these proteins, their beaks are too weak to rip anything apart.

Scavengers such as vultures have strong, hooked beaks that allow them to dismember whatever they encounter.

Pigeons in the wild survive off of grains, berries, and insects – which is their natural food habitat. However, pigeons that flock in urban areas have to be much more resourceful. There aren’t many natural fruits or grains in cities and pigeons will eat whatever they can fit into their beaks.

Feeding pigeons with a lot of meat can be harmful, as their digestive systems are not very well equipped to break down a lot of protein altogether. Occasional fried chicken treats should be okay, though. 

However, never feed them raw meat, as it can make them lose their flexibility, shortening their life span.

Related Read: When Can Baby Pigeons Feed Themselves?

Do All Pigeons Eat All forms of Meat? 

No, pigeons only prefer to feed on small prey that is defenseless. While the pigeons live in the wild with predators around, they prefer to choose their food carefully. 

They love to snack on small creatures like snails, worms, and insects – the ones that will not put up a fight when picked. Pigeons need protein for survival, and it is abundant in larger quantities in meat. 

Pigeons cannot carry or peck larger-sized animals or birds or fishes and hence stick with the smaller ones that look edible.  

Most of the city pigeons’ varied diets are often derived from trash cans or discarded food waste. Pigeons who feed on such meat have a very short and unhealthy lifespan. 

In addition, their health becomes detrimental when fed with highly processed, salted, and full of additive foods. 

Wild Pigeons feed on whatever edible form of flesh food that looks appealing to them. Yet, they are not strong enough to peck on rats or any small animals.

So, instead, they go for easier options like bugs, beetles, small insects, and earthworms. 

Things to know before you feed pigeons:  

Feeding Pigeons regularly can be quite harmful, as excess feed attracts an extra number of birds to the spot making the place liable for more diseases and litter. 

In addition, many people feed pigeons with the junk food scraps that they have in hand, leading to overbreeding of the nutrition-deficient pigeon population. 

Few things to be mindful of when it comes to feeding pigeons: 

  • Avoid feeding them with junk, fast foods, or your leftovers.
  • Do not feed them foods with a high protein value.
  • Never give them raw chicken/ lamb or any meat for that sake.
  • Do not give them foods with excess salt.

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