What Not To Feed Pigeons?

Pigeons are the most common birds you can see in large cities. They are highly adaptable and practically live everywhere. You can find them in your apartment blocks, on roadside trees, in parks, and every other place. 

Though they are everywhere, most of us are unaware of the basic facts about pigeons.

What Do Pigeons Eat? 

Pigeons are herbivorous birds. They eat seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and all sorts of human food. In rare cases, they also feed on small insects, worms, and snails

Pigeons have only 40 taste buds, which is far lower than humans, who have thousands of taste buds. This means that they taste food differently than us.

However, feral pigeons or city pigeons have adapted well to life in a city and eat all human food such as pasta, fries, burgers, etc. 

The nutrition needs of a pigeon change according to its life stage. For example, baby pigeons have different nutritional needs in comparison to adult birds.

In the same way, their nutritional needs during the egg-laying stage are different when compared to the nesting stage. 

A fully-grown adult pigeon can eat about 30 grams of food in a day. Food rich in nutrients such as vitamins, proteins, and fats is necessary for the bird to be healthy. Some healthy foods that can be fed to pigeons are

  • Cereals provide an adequate amount of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. It is essential to include corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peas, etc. in the pigeon food.
  • Fruits and vegetables are important for the healthy growth of these birds. Always cut the fruits and vegetables into tiny pieces and remove pits and skin. 
  • A small number of insects and worms provide the proteins and fats in an easily accessible form. 
  • Birdfeed in the form of pellets and grains. These pellets are rich in all the nutrients and are available in different varieties to suit the life stage of the bird. 
  • Pigeons need more water than other birds. Always ensure there is enough water available. 

Related Read: How Do Pigeons Drink Water?

What Not to Feed Pigeons?

Pigeons eat almost everything that is available. However, some types of food can harm the bird and may lead to its death. 

Here are some foods that should not be fed to pigeons

  • Excess Sugar – Food and drinks with excess sugar can cause diabetes in pigeons.
  • Avocado – This fruit contains a substance known as persin, which is harmful to pigeons.
  • Apple Pit and Skin – You have to be very careful when you give an apple to your pigeon. Apple pit contains cyanide, which is a highly toxic substance. Moreover, apple skin is coated with pesticides that are harmful to birds. 
  • Junk Food – Eating excessive junk food can cause obesity in your pigeon and also damage its health.
  • Salty Food – High amounts of sodium in the diet can cause dehydration and prove to be fatal to pigeons.
  • Onion and Garlic- The chemicals such as sulfur and allicin, present in onion and garlic can damage the digestive system of the bird and also cause anemia. 
  • Meat –  A variety of bacteria and viruses can enter the pigeons’ body through meat, which may lead to disease and infections. 
  • Caffeinated Beverages – Beverages that contain caffeine such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks are a strict no for pigeons. Caffeine can cause increased heart rate and lead to cardiac arrest. 
  • Chocolate – Theobromine, and Caffeine present in chocolates can cause a variety of problems such as diarrhea, increased heart rate, seizures, and death.  

Related Read: What Not To Feed Wild Birds? ( Harmful Foods For Wild Birds )

Avoiding these foods is beneficial for the overall health of the pigeon. Bird lovers and pigeon owners should keep a note of these items and keep them away to ensure the safety of the birds. 

Here is a quick recap of what to feed and what not to feed pigeons.

What to FeedWhat Not To Feed
Tiny pieces of fruits and vegetablesPits and skin of fruits and vegetables, Avocado
Grains and seedsOnion and garlic
Cereals and pulsesSalty foods
Commercial bird feedJunk food and chocolates
waterCaffeinated beverages and sugary drinks
Insects and wormsMeat

Related Read: When Can Baby Pigeons Feed Themselves?

Related Questions:

Can I feed pigeons with bread?

Though bread isn’t particularly bad for pigeons, it is not recommended to feed pigeons bread. Bread has no nutritional content for these birds so there is no point feeding them this.

However, if you still do feed pigeons bread, make sure to feed them in very small quantities and ensure that the bread is fresh and doesn’t have any artificial toppings or condiments on it.

Can pigeons eat cucumbers?

Yes, pigeons can eat cucumbers. Cucumbers are a great addition to a pigeon’s diet, especially in the hot summer months. Cucumbers also have a large number of nutrients in them and hence are good for these birds. 

It is important that you wash the cucumbers properly before you feed them to the pigeons so that the birds aren’t consuming any pesticides or chemicals that may be present in the cucumbers.

Can I feed pigeons rice?

The answer is yes, if you have any leftover rice, you can definitely feed it to pigeons. The rice can be cooked or uncooked.

Do pigeons eat grass?

You might have seen pigeons pecking at the grass but they do not eat grass. The ground beneath the grass is often filled with holes that are home to numerous bugs and larvae. Pigeons eat these. 

Can pigeons eat popcorn?

You can feed pigeons popped or unpopped kernels of corn. However, if you’re feeding them unpopped kernels, make sure you boil them until they are a little softer because unpopped kernels might cause digestive issues for the pigeons. 


Pigeons eat almost everything but this doesn’t mean they should. Some food like meat, avocados and highly processed food should always be avoided for wild birds.

You can feed them fresh fruits and seeds, these are highly nutritious and will help the birds a lot.

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