Pigeons are the most common birds that can be seen almost everywhere around the world. People often see the birds pecking on some seeds and even leftovers in garbage bins. But this is just not what pigeons eat.
When I decided to add pigeons to my family, the food that they naturally eat was the first thing I wanted to know. I researched in detail about their diet, especially the best food to provide them.
To help you know and understand pigeons’ food habits better, below I have concluded all the information that I gathered from my research as well as experience.
What do pigeons eat?
Pigeons eat a wide range of food items including seeds, fruits, grains, herbs, weeds, berries, cereals, insects, snails, worms, bread, and even leftovers. Basically, they can feed on anything that comes their way.
The birds are omnivores but the major part of their food intake includes plant matter. The birds occasionally feed on insects, snails, and worms to supplement their plant-based diet.
Pigeons are not picky eaters but they do have more liking towards the seeds and grains.
The diet of every pigeon doesn’t necessarily include all the things mentioned above as their dietary composition depends majorly on the location and surroundings where they live.
The composition of the diet of pigeons found in different geographical locations varies significantly. The ones located near the tropics lean more on fruits than seeds. Whereas, the pigeons at temperate zones tend to eat more seeds.
Related Read: Can Pigeons Eat Bread?
Due to lack of natural resources, the pigeons that dominate urban environments are more likely to feed on almost anything such as leftovers we dump out. On the other hand, wild pigeons feed more on natural sources.
Below is a detailed discussion on the food habits of pigeons living in different environments to help you understand their diet better.
Related Read: What not to feed pigeons?
Food habits of pet pigeons vs city pigeons vs wild pigeons:
The diet of pet pigeons is more calculated and well-balanced than that of wild and city pigeons. They are fed with a properly nutritious diet and often given delicious treats.
The pet pigeons’ diet depends completely on the owner as the birds are often not allowed to scavenge for food themselves. The pet pigeons are fed with the following food items such as:
- Commercial Bird Food
Despite originally belonging to forests, gardens, coastal areas, and cliffs, pigeons have adapted to thrive in the urban environment successfully. But the diet of city pigeons is not as nutritious as the diet of wild and pet pigeons.
Their diet consists of almost anything such as:
- French fries
They are able to eat and digest all of the human foods because of their decades of evolution and adaptation.
In the wild, the pigeons are surrounded by ample natural food sources and hence, their diet majorly constitutes the natural food items such as:
The wild pigeons are more healthy eaters than the ones living around human habitation. In the wild, pigeons follow their natural instincts to choose their food.
In comparison with pet pigeons, wild pigeons spend most of their time scavenging for food.
Best food for pigeons
Below is a list of some of the best food items for pigeons that must be included in their diet to provide optimum nutrition to the birds.
1. Sunflower Seeds
The seeds are extremely beneficial in maintaining the reproductive health of pigeons and combating inflammation. Thus, sunflower seeds help the bird to survive in cold weather.
Wheat is the most go-to item for feeding pigeons. It is not only one of the favorite food items of pigeons but also a healthy source to provide fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins. and minerals.
However, pigeons should be fed with an appropriate amount of wheat as an excess of it can cause health problems.
One of the most beneficial foods to pigeons, Corn is an easily digestible grain with less crude fiber and more fat. Pigeons enjoy eating it due to its vibrant color and hardness. Corn is considered beneficial for the digestive system of pigeons.
Pigeons are considered good for the immune system of pigeons. It helps the birds by reducing their fatigue and sickness rates. They are rich in protein, nitrates, and minerals. Feeding peas can give a high nutritional return to the birds. They are low in fats.
Filled with protein and fiber, oats are one of the healthiest foods for pigeons. They benefit the nervous system and blood circulation of pigeons.
Apart from it, they are also beneficial for pigeons’ healthy muscles and feathers.
However, the birds laying eggs should not be fed with oats as it may affect the formation and quality of eggshells.
6. Leafy Greens
Greens constitute all the essential nutrients that most of the other food sources lack. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron, omega fatty acids, proteins, and antioxidants.
Pigeons generally eat all kinds of leafy vegetables, but their most preferable ones are spinach, cabbage, kale, and lettuce. One of the main benefits of leafy greens to pigeons is that they keep the birds hydrated.
What do baby pigeons eat?
Baby pigeons are fed with crop milk that is regurgitated both by female and male parent pigeons.
The feeding with just the crop milk continues till the first week of their birth. After it, they are provided with the other foods alongside the crop milk.
The crop milk is rich in protein and thus, helps in the early development of the baby pigeons. The micronutrients present in the crop milk are crucial for the muscle, tissue, and feather development of baby pigeons.
The feeding of crop milk stops around the third week or so as the digestive system of baby pigeons becomes capable of digesting all kinds of pigeon foods.
Around the fourth week, the pigeon becomes completely ready to efficiently gather and digest food.
What do pigeons eat in winter?
In winter, pigeons feed more on the food that helps them in surviving the cold such as oilseeds (Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.) and cereals (oats, barley, etc.).
The diet of city pigeons does not change much during the winters as they have all of their food sources available. But this is not the case with wild pigeons because the natural food sources become scarce during winter.
The birds do not migrate to long distances and thus, struggle in finding food sources in winters. The only way they survive the winters is by adapting themselves to the weather.
Pigeons feed more on the insects and worms during winter as this helps the birds to level up their intake of protein and carbohydrates.
What do pigeons eat in summer?
Pigeons eat food items that help them in keeping hydrated and cool in summers such as summer fruits and vegetables, seeds, jellies, peanuts, etc.
These food items are rich in water content and thus, help the pigeons in surviving hot, sunny days of summer.
During summers, finding food becomes extremely easy for pigeons as there are ample sources available in both the urban and wild settlements.
Pigeons survive on a mixture of varied foods. Whether they are city pigeons, pet pigeons, or wild pigeons, their diet is roughly the same except for minute differences.
The kind of food eaten by the birds depends not only on their location and surroundings but only on the weather.