Now there’s a sight. Pigeon kissing each other… do they?
The short answer to that question is no, pigeons do not kiss each other.
As much as I would like to believe that two pigeons locking beaks and ‘kissing’ each other is a sign of true love, sadly, this cozy little behavior is actually called mate feeding. This is a common sight during the mating season, which, for pigeons, is year-round, and both male and female pigeons will engage in certain ‘mating’ behavior.
Let’s take a closer look at the mating process.
How do pigeons mate?
One of the components of pigeon courtship is eye contact. The male pigeon will ‘nod’ his head at the female pigeon he fancies and spread out his tail feathers to indicate his interest—the usual male posturing. The female pigeon, if she happens to find him attractive and is interested, will ‘nod back’. This, here, is good old fashioned consent.
Then it is up to the female to make the next move and move toward the male who is still preening.
Next comes the infamous ‘kiss.’
Birds in general have a rather curious and complicated mating ritual. A courtship between these pigeons that we assume has been ‘sealed with a kiss’ is just the male pigeon showing his mate that he is a provider and will scour for food for her and their young.
The male will fetch food and feed the female through the beak, which is often mistaken for kissing and as a sign of love. I don’t see why not. Kibbles over kisses any day.
After the peck, the pigeons will mate. They usually mate as a monogamous pair(really, pigeons have the making of a truly perfect relationship) and over the course of a year, they will raise as many as four to five broods, only slowing down a little during the winter months.
Pigeons obviously do not have the same sexual organs as people do. Both the male and female have a single orifice called a cloaca which they use to defecate, lay eggs, and mate.
The male pigeon will mount the female and touch his cloaca to hers in what is called a cloacal kiss and will transfer his sperm. This process is very quick, and only takes a few seconds, before the male hops off and the female proceeds to store the sperms within her reproductive tract until an egg is released.
The first egg is usually laid ten days after the two pigeons mate, with the second arriving a couple of days later. The incubation period lasts for about 18 to 20 days, with the young ‘squabs’ hatching, covered in brownish, yellow down.
Squab also refers to a thick porridge-like substance that the parent pigeons will develop. It is, in essence, thick pigeon milk that is chock full of nutrients for the little ones. This substance is usually fed to the young ones for up to six weeks and help them develop immunity as well as boost their growth.