What do pigeons eat in the city?

Eating has been associated with survival for ages and no wonder every living being depends on it for existence. Eating habits, in general, differ from humans to birds and animals.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Humans in general eat more than what is required for their survival whereas birds pick and eat just right for their survival. Birds like Pigeons are very selective when it comes to their food choices.  

Eating habits differ based on the type of breed they are. Wild Pigeons have a different preference while homing pigeons have different food options available. Based on the place they live, their options for food also vary.

While people can assume about the food choices of wild pigeons, they might have no idea about pigeons living in cities. What do pigeons eat in cities, how do they live in cities, are all common questions when it comes to pigeons. 

Where Do Pigeons Live In The City? 

Pigeons prefer to live in flocks than in pairs. In heavily crowded areas like cities, pigeons take shelter in slabs and abandoned buildings. They prefer warmth and safety in any place they stay in. 

In every city you name, you can always find pigeons in flocks. They prefer concrete buildings more than tree branches for their nests. Pigeons are found in large numbers in cities, all because of humans domesticating and breeding them from long years ago. 

In the older days, people preferred to use them as pets. They have also been using them as messengers since pigeons have the ability to fly back home from any mile distance. Pigeons played a big role in world wars. 

What Do Pigeons Eat In The City?

City pigeon’s diets are not as nutritious or diverse as wild pigeons, they eat any type of food found in the cities. City pigeons or feral pigeons eat seeds, rice, fruits, bread, cheese, pizza, pasta, grains, and other wasted food from the garbage. 

They do not have any options other than depending on humans for food and shelter. In cities, people kept water and grains on their balconies and rooftop for birds. Like crows and magpies, pigeons are also scavengers.

City pigeons eating habits include

  • Seeds and grains – City pigeons eat some healthy foods left by people in parks or other public places. Some bird feeders provide millets, rice, or other grains and water for all the birds in the cities. Unlike wild pigeons, city pigeons can’t get daily healthy foods.
  • Fruits – People have to be aware of what fruit pigeons eat before feeding them. Apples and avocados are harmful to pigeons.
  • Bread or pizza base – Humans feed junk foods to pigeons, one of the common foods is the bread and which has little nutritional value to the pigeons.
  • Cooked food – Mostly city birds get cooked food as their meals. Cooked pasta and rice have high sodium which is not healthy for birds.
  • Cheese – Most leftover food or snacks have high cheese, pigeons loved to eat cheese items but it’s not good for health.
  • Trash food – when pigeons cannot find any food, they search for food in trash cans and start to eat rotten or spoiled food that has harmful bacteria.

Pigeons prefer cities because urban areas have an abundance of food, which helps to maintain a balanced diet.

Can you feed city pigeons? 

Yes. Humans in cities feed pigeons with whatever leftover food, corn, or pizzas are available. 

Related Read: What not to feed pigeons?

Yet, this practice is highly discouraged, as encouraging them to survive with human foods, can make them highly dependent on mankind for survival.

What is a healthy diet for a city pigeon?

City pigeons usually do not get the option to eat selective food as per the requirement of their bodies. For general knowledge and understanding of the lifestyle of these birds, we need to understand, what is a proper diet for these birds?

The city pigeons require a balanced diet that is rich in fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to remain healthy and fit in adverse natural conditions. One of the major portions of the pigeon diet should be calcium as they are prone to calcium deficiency.

But it is not possible for city pigeons to get a diet that is perfectly balanced and most of the city pigeons feed on an unbalanced diet that causes many deficiency diseases to them in the long run.

It is one of the major reasons why the lifespan of city pigeons is shorter than pet pigeons and wild pigeons.

City pigeons can feed on vegetable sources like seeds, plant edibles, fruits, and other foods that are rich in many nutrients to stay healthy and fit. A healthy intake of water is also crucial in maintaining the pigeon’s health.

Wild pigeons have many options as compared to the city pigeons, some of them are discussed in the next section.

What do pigeons in the wild eat?

Plant seeds

Pigeons in the wild can found a plethora of seeds on the ground and in many fruits that are easily edible and have a high nutrient content.

Different types of grains

A large number of grains are easily accessible to the wild pigeons. These different grains are rich in various fibers and nutrients, making a super healthy eating option for wild pigeons.

A large variety of fruits

Sweet and freshly smelling fruits are available in the wild for pigeons to eat and enjoy. Pigeons eat a different variety of fruits but they love to eat berries of different types.

What Should City Pigeons Not Eat?

City pigeons are susceptible to different types of foods and they consume them irrespective of their health effects on their body.

There are many foods that are available in the city that causes harm to the pigeons’ health and should not be consumed by the bird.

If you see pigeons eating these foods, try to stop them from consuming them for their better health. The foods that city pigeons should avoid are-

  • Foods that are high in sugar content should be avoided as they can cause various allergic reactions in their body and may cause diabetes. The amounts of sugar we humans consume are relatively higher for the birds and can cause them serious troubles. Any kind of soft drink should not be offered to city pigeons.
  • Another food item that causes some level of discomfort for the pigeons is apple seed. Apple seeds have cyanide that can create irritation and pain in the gut of the bird. If you feed an apple to any city pigeon make sure to remove the seeds before giving them to the bird.
  • Theobromine is also very dangerous for the pigeon’s overall health. Regular chocolates contain significant amounts of theobromine and their consumption may cause some health issues to pigeons.
  • Salty and processed food are also unfit for city pigeons as the sodium can cause digestion issues and may increase the blood pressure of the bird.


Pigeons eat different types of food from plant edible to small insects in the wild, in captivity, and in the urban areas as well. The city pigeons suffer a lack of resources for food as compared to wild pigeons. City pigeons have to search extensively to get some good food to eat.

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