Faster than a cheetah, more muscle bond than a gorilla, more agile than a great white shark, swooping overhead, feasting on our streets. Pigeons, a feasting bird with a surprising diet. A common sight, but not a common diet, what do pigeons eat? And what do they like to eat? How’s the diet different from wild pigeons? More or less, we will hop over all of them.
The Short Answer…
From seeds to berries to insects to leftovers, pigeons eat anything they get but mostly seeds. Though not picky, pigeon’s favorite are seeds, corn, pearl millets, rice (Find out, do pigeons explode from eating rice), wheat, safflower, chickpea, oats, or a mix of all. These are the preferred foods of pigeons but they don’t wait or depend on them and they eat anything they come across. But if pigeons have lots of food, they will choose their favorite foods over others that will overwhelm their diet balance and is terrible for their health.
What to feed pigeons that pigeons eat and is nutrition and healthy for pigeons is seeds and plants but also meat in the shape of insects and bugs. Containing protein, these help pigeons fly, make sounds, and lay eggs and increase their feather for surviving cold.
Living with humans for centuries, pigeons have well adapted to cities and so do their diet. Like other urban species, pigeon’s diet has largely changed from their diet in the wild as what’s available in the city which is different than the wild. In the wild, pigeons would mostly feed on nature, unlike the city that seems to have delicious food but are high in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and high sugar.
Though pigeons are considered complex and intelligent animals, they aren’t very good at picking the right food to eat and thus, mainting their diet. Whatever the food, they will eat it, no matter where the food, on the road or in the trash, pigeons will happily feed on it. But is it okay and should you feed them whatever they eat? Here is the answer.
What Do Pigeons Typically Eat?
Typically, pigeons eat a variety of seeds, grains, berries, fruits, and occasionally eat insects, snails, and earthworms. Urban pigeons eat more than just typical food and they eat a lot more than that specifically leftovers, which include junk food, bread, sweets and baked meat of different animals. Navigating across the city, they find these foods from trash, in the park or on the streets.
Therefore, people consider pigeons them scavengers that carry disease which is wrong. Pigeons do not carry or transfer disease but actually its their droppings. As they appear suddenly anywhere where is food, they also drop their feces there which is dangerous.
Domestic pigeons, however, do not have access to these foods but so they stick with their typical favorite food that they would eat in the wild which keeps them healthy and balance their diet.
What Do Pigeons Like To Eat?
Like some birds, pigeons enjoy eating the typical food that includes seeds, nuts, grains, corn, sunflower, wheat, barley, millet, and insects. Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients. Among nuts, pigeons like acorns, almonds, beechnuts.
But they are not the only food they like to eat. Adapted into the city, these smart creatures also like what we like to eat, like sweets and sugary items, bread, baked meat, drinks, junk food, and you name it. But should you feed them? Here’s why or why not and how often.
Should You Let/Feed Pigeons Human Food?
As far as human food are pretty delicious, not all of them are beneficial neither for humans nor for pigeons. Like for both pigeons and humans, sugary drinks are completely bad even less amount. Some foods are however beneficial if used less like baked meat, which can be fish, beef, or chicken. These food are high in protein and will help pigeon in every aspect.
As a result, feeding pigeons on human food should be less and to some extent only.
What To Feed Pigeons?
Pigeons eat any type of seeds at any period of the year, but some seeds are more beneficial than others.
- Sunflower Seeds:
Most people know about sunflower seeds and how helpful it is, however, they do not know if pigeons eat sunflower seeds or not. Almost all the birds eat sunflower seeds and are advised. Particularly, sunflower seeds provide fat, protein, and fiber. There is a lot more energy and strength stored in this.
But the birds have to remove each husk to access the heart inside. This can cause a mess around feeders, and the birds require a lot of energy just to de-husk the seed. You can buy ready-husked sunflower hearts. They are more expensive but they’re well worth it as blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, greenfinches absolutely love them.
There’s no mess around feeders and the birds are straight into the energy.
If you love feeding pigeons, you’d probably want to consider feeding wheat.
Just as useful as for us, wheat is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Unless it is used in large amounts, it is good for everyone and every animal including pigeons. As available in wild and city, pigeons like wheat and eats very well. If you want to help pigeons in maintaining their diet and as well as offer energy, what is the one to go with.
High in fiber, corns help indigestion. The vitamin B that it contains are very important for pigeon’s health. Nonetheless, it also strengths with the minerals it carries with such as magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.
Other than this, these are some foods you should feed.
Pellet Diet For Pigeons:
The Pellet diet is healthy for pigeon’s health as they’ve more nutrients than other seeds. Almost 50% of a pigeon’s diet should contain pellets. Pellets are cheaper and you can also save yourself from sparrows as they don’t like pellets. Pellet is an ideal diet for pigeons.
What Not To Feed Your Pigeons?
Pigeons are open to every food, including terrible food which is harmful to the health. Whether you are keeping pigeons or feeding pigeons elsewhere, you should probably avoid this food to them. Here are they.
Sprinkling some salt is fine but not a lot. Because it dehydrates pigeons especially during the summer. Although pigeons love salt and will try to eat salty foods as much as they can, avoid feeding them too much salt as it can be fatal.
- Human’s Food & Leftovers
Most human foods are vicious for pigeons and can produce germs and bacteria in a pigeon’s body which will eventually lead to death. Human food consists of fast food, drinks like alcohol, beverages, and leftovers.
As humans, pigeons also like foods containing caffeine, like tea. Despite it does little harm to us, it does no good to pigeons. Not only it increases heart rate but also results in a cardiac attack. Too much caffeine would probably cause death in a minimum amount of time.
Only feed these foods in a small amount and more than that, it will be toxic not only for pigeons but also other animals that feed on pigeons. And that also transfers to other animals that feeds on them. Like this, it will enter into whole food chain that will eventually also come back to us.
Do Pigeons Eat Bread?
People mostly feed bread to their pigeons but it contains complex carbohydrates which provides no nutritional value to pigeons. Instead, moldy bread contains chemicals and preservatives and becomes sticky when its wet. However, wheat bread has fiber and isn’t very bad for pigeons like brown one. In fact, in some countries, it is primarily used to feed and raise pigeons. But there isn’t very much scientific research on this and little we know. So what’s the endpoint?
You can feed bread occasionally but not often as they will become font to it.
What Do Pigeons Prefer Between Bread & Birdseed?
Pigeons may prefer bread over birdseed but they aren’t supposed to because bread doesn’t have little to no nutritional value. Avoid feeding an excess amount of bread except only occasionally.
How Do Pigeons eat?
As we know pigeons don’t have teeth so they can’t chew the food. They just drop it down to their throat . They have a kind of pouch in their throat which is called a crop where they store their food and later they digest it. Birds quickly turn their food into fat which helps them to survive in cold weather. They usually stick their food with saliva, which helps them to swallow their food. After that, it goes to their stomach where it is bathed in different digestive juices and then passes to a muscular organ which is called a gizzard where the grinding process takes place.
What Do Pigeons Drink?
Similar to food, pigeons drink water, cold drinks, beverages, alcohol, and liquid that seem water and drinkable.