Pigeon Food: The Complete Diet Guide For Your Pigeons

 The pigeon family of birds is large-winged, stout-bodied birds with thick beaks. There are about 340 species of pigeons, many of which are native to the Asian Pacific region and are frequently seen by people. Some of the most well-known species concentrate near to human cities and towns, including the common wood pigeon, rock pigeon, and mourning dove. Since pigeons are so many and diverse, it is challenging to summarize anything precise about their food as a whole. Nevertheless, this article will attempt to cover some general information about what they consume and how they eat it, whether they live in the city, in the wild, or as pets.

Pigeon Food: The Complete Diet Guide For Your Pigeons
Pigeon Food: The Complete Diet Guide For Your Pigeons

 A quick word on terminology: Pigeons and doves are sometimes distinguished in English depending on their size. The biggest of the two is typically the pigeon. However, this distinction is not even regularly used, and it lacks a solid scientific foundation. For instance, the rock pigeon is another name for the rock dove. Whether referred to as a pigeon or a dove, any member of the pigeon family is covered in this article.

What does the pigeon eat?

 Sometimes, pigeons are considered to be true omnivores (meaning they eat both plants and meat; really almost anything they can find). However, in reality, practically all of their food consists of plant material, such as grains, weeds, green leafy vegetables, grasses, fruits, and berries. They also occasionally consume meals made up of insects, snails, and earthworms.

 The composition of the diet is significantly influenced by geography. Pigeons living close to tropical regions frequently eat more fruits than seeds, therefore they spend a lot of time on trees looking for food. For many temperate species, however, seeds are the primary source of nutrition. About 99 percent of the food of the common mourning dove is made up of seeds, including cultivated grains and peanuts. They are thought to eat between 12 and 20 percent of their body weight each day. This is equivalent to, on average, 71 calories.

 Pigeons' anatomies are exceptionally well suited to consuming the food that is available to them. Heavy grain and seed eaters frequently rely on their gizzards, a unique organ close to the digestive system, to break down tough foods. Their stomachs take longer to digest and absorb complex carbs. Additionally, they are far more prone to scavenge for food on the ground. On the other hand, those that consume a lot of fruit typically have shorter intestines and thinner gizzards. They are also better at hanging upside down and clinging to branches, which helps them collect fruit from trees.

 Before reaching adulthood, baby pigeons are well known to feed on a substance called pigeon's milk. It is not real milk, but rather a semi-solid regurgitated substance extremely high in protein and fat to help newborn babies grow. The youngsters consume this “milk” in the first days of their life before being gradually weaned to accept seeds and other foods. It may take a few weeks before baby pigeons are fully able to digest adult food.

Diets for pet pigeons

 If you have a domestic pigeon, you have a good opportunity to provide it with optimal nutrition, which is not always possible for wild pigeons. Much of your pet's diet will consist of seeds. You can mix it yourself or buy a specially formulated product made for pigeons.

 A good variety of several different seeds and grains should be present in the mixture. Include some fruits and veggies in the mix as well. Pigeon pellets, according to many experts, are the best pigeon food available because they were specially made to fulfill the specific nutritional requirements of your beloved bird.

Wild pigeon diets

 Pigeons in cities have adapted very well to human settlements and feeding habits. Therefore, they eat just about anything that humans eat. Pigeons mainly depend on humans for their food supply. But this is not the case with pigeons in the wild. The feeding habits of wild pigeons are very different from those of city pigeons. Savages depend on nature for their survival. Here are some of the foods feral pigeons typically eat:

  • Seeds: They eat the seeds they find in the wild from grasses, plants, wildflowers, and oilseeds.
  • Cereals: They feed on all the cereals they find in the wild or on any agricultural land. They mainly eat cereals like corn, millet, wheat, rice, and barley.
  • Fruits: They feed mainly on small seedless fruits like berries in particular.
  • Vegetables: They eat leafy green vegetables, legumes, and beans.
  • Insects: They occasionally eat bugs, insects, and worms which feed them fats, proteins, and other nutrients.

 Pigeons like to eat seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables and feed on ants, mites, insects, snails, and worms.

Homing and racing pigeon diets

 For homing pigeons and racing pigeons, protein should be the focus as this type of bird burns more calories than the average pigeon as it is much more active.

 This protein usually comes from plant sources, but you can often find the ideal protein balance in pigeon foods formulated for racing and racing pigeons. These birds also need adequate amounts of minerals and sand in their food.

What do pigeons eat in winter?

 A pigeon is a scavenger bird and devours almost anything it finds edible. They are quite flexible birds when it comes to eating. The list of foods they gorge on seems endless. They like to eat seeds, grains, legumes, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, small insects, human food, and anything else they find on the ground.

 Pigeons in cities consume approximately the same amount of food throughout the year. But during the winter, pigeons that don't live in cities frequently have trouble getting food. The pigeons struggle to get food during the winter because they do not move over great distances. The winter season is when food sources are frequently limited.

 They generally adapt according to climatic changes. A pigeon survives mainly by eating seeds and small insects during the winter. Pigeons eat seeds and grains all year round, but they feed mainly on seeds and oil-based grains such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, and barley in cold weather. Pigeons often do not migrate long distances, but they do fly to places where they can find plenty of food to support themselves.

What nutrients do pet pigeons need?

 Animals have different nutritional needs from each other and humans. Pigeons are no exception. They need the right mix and the right amount of many nutrients to stay healthy, protect their immune systems, and keep them happy and content.

 Only feeding your pet pigeon high-quality seeds and mixes manufactured with quality components is the best way to ensure that it receives the nourishment it needs. The following is a list of some of the particular nutrients they require:

  • Calcium: This nutrient keeps your pigeon's bones healthy and guarantees that its egg shells will be sturdy and viable if it lays any.
  • Vitamin D3: This nutrient helps your pigeon absorb calcium, ensuring levels remain healthy.
  • Vitamin A: a vitamin A deficiency can lead to various health problems for your pigeon.
  • Probiotics: these nutrients aid in good digestion and help ensure that your pigeon's intestines absorb the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals it needs.
  • Protein: protein helps build strong claws and beaks and gives your pigeon the energy to fly and roam when you let it out of the cage.
  • B complex: Several different biological activities of a bird are maintained by this group of vitamins.
  • Vitamin E: supports a healthy metabolism.
  • Vitamin K: helps kill bacteria in your pigeon's intestines, preventing disease and other health issues.
  • Ascorbic Acid: promotes a healthy liver and controls your bird's metabolism.

 As you can see a pigeon needs a wide range of nutrients and it is your job to choose a feed that ensures your pigeon is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs. Luckily, it's not as difficult or overwhelming as it may seem.

List of foods that pigeons can eat

 As previously discussed, pigeons will generally eat anything and everything; however, they need a balanced diet to stay healthy and fit. An adult pigeon eats about 1.05 oz (30 g) of food per day.

 If you want to feed feral or stray pigeons or keep them as a pet, you need to know what foods they can eat that is healthy for them. You can refer to the following list of feeds for pigeons to create a healthy diet for them.

  • Legumes and Grains: Legumes contain essential nutrients. Legumes are a rich source of protein, vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium salts, whereas; cereals are loaded with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and minerals. Legumes and cereals are beneficial for birds, and pigeons in particular. Therefore, they should be served as the main feed for pigeons. However, they should be given in moderation to prevent your pigeons from becoming overweight.
  • Wheat: Wheat contains carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins and is high in dietary fiber and antioxidants. Pigeons should have wheat in smaller quantities.
  • Corn: Calories, calcium, and protein are all abundant in corn. Corn is healthy for pigeons' digestive systems and has a high nutritional and calorie value. However, it would be preferable if you did not give them a lot of corn to eat.
  • Oats: Oats are loaded with fiber and protein. They are good for the nervous system and blood circulation of pigeons. They also maintain the health of their muscles and feathers. Oats are good for pigeons in winter. But pigeons that produce eggs should avoid oats as they can affect eggshell formation.
  • Barley: Barley provides dietary fiber, iron, vitamins, and carbohydrates. It is therefore good for the pigeons in winter. Barley is safe for the digestive system of an adult pigeon but not suitable for young pigeons.
  • Rice: Rice is full of carbs and small amounts of iron and fiber. Some birds, including pigeons, eat rice, but it's not very beneficial and doesn't have much nutrition. But you can give them rice mixed with other foods.
  • Rye: Rye contains dietary fiber and sugars, but it does not have a high nutritional content for pigeons. Nevertheless, you can always give it to pigeons together with other cereals.
  • Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are packed with essential nutrients and healthy fats. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals. This seed is beneficial to pigeons for their reproductive health and also supports them in cold weather.
  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are high-fat seeds packed with copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. This seed is good for the healthy feathers of pigeons and helps keep them warm in the cold season.

 Pigeons and doves mainly peck the seeds. These days, pet stores sell seed mixes that meet the needs and diets of pigeons and doves. This seed mix is loaded with high nutritional value. Therefore, feeding them with this mixture of pigeon or dove seeds will be beneficial for their health.

  • Leafy greens: The necessary elements that grains and seeds frequently lack are available in leafy greens. Vitamin, calcium, omega fatty acid, and antioxidant levels are very high. Pigeons enjoy eating a variety of leafy greens, but their favorite ones to consume include kale, spinach, lettuce, and cabbage. The greens' high water content also aids in the pigeons' continued hydration. Because they require more water than other birds do, pigeons benefit from the hydration and health benefits of green leafy vegetables.
  • Peas: Peas are a good source of low-fat vitamins, protein, minerals, and nitrates. Peas help pigeons by keeping their immune system healthy and reducing disease rates and fatigue. They are also easy for pigeons to digest. Pigeons like to eat dried peas and split peas because they are easy to consume and provide a high nutritional return.

 Pigeons also enjoy eating broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and lentils, among other veggies. Pigeons prefer to consume any little, seedless fruit because they lack teeth. Additionally, bananas, plums, cherries, blueberries, raisins, grapes, and other berries are favorites of pigeons.

 Pigeons mainly depend on human foodstuffs for their survival. They like to eat almost all kinds of foods that humans eat. Pigeons eat bread, breadcrumbs, popcorn, cooked fish, meat, eggs, dairy products, and packaged foods. Consuming human food can be healthy and beneficial for pigeons. However, some foods may contain high levels of calories, fats, chemicals, and preservatives, which can adversely affect the health and life of pigeons. You can include human food in moderation and in small amounts in the pigeon's diet.

 Pigeons should have access to clean drinking water in addition to any food offered. Pigeons require more water than other birds do to stay hydrated. Typically, they can quench their thirst by eating delectable green vegetables, but they should also be provided with enough fresh water to drink.

What not to feed pigeons?

 As pigeons devour any type of food, they often feed on elements, such as gravel, which are detrimental to their health. Sometimes people also give pigeons food that is not suitable for their diet. Here are some of the foods you should not include in a pigeon's diet. It would be best if you avoided feeding the pigeons any of these foods.

  • Expired food and leftovers: Expired food and leftovers are not suitable for pigeons. They can contain harmful bacteria and germs that can cause food poisoning in pigeons, leading to deterioration in their health and possibly even death. This is why you should not give pigeons stale food and leftovers.
  • Salty Foods: Although pigeons like to munch on salty foods and salty snacks, it is not good for their body. Feeding pigeons salty food can be fatal as it causes dehydration.
  • Spicy and fried foods: Spicy foods and fried foods are unhealthy for pigeons. They are high in calories and fat, which are toxic to the welfare of pigeons. These foods have very little or no nutritional benefits. They should not be part of the pigeon diet and therefore should be avoided.
  • Avocados: The chemical called persin in avocados damages the internal body systems of birds. Avocados are deadly to the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs of pigeons. It would be better if you did not give avocados to pigeons and birds in general.
  • Caffeine and alcohol: Pigeons often end up drinking discarded beverages. These drinks may contain caffeine or alcohol, which are toxic to pigeons. These drinks cause heart problems and can also be fatal for a pigeon.
  • Apple seeds: Amygdalin is contained in apple seeds. The cyanide that is released into the blood after chewing apple seeds is harmful to pigeons and can even be deadly to them. As a result, you shouldn't give pigeons apple seeds.
  • Garlic and onions: Chemicals found in garlic and onions can make pigeons anemic. They can also irritate a bird's esophagus and mouth. It would be better if the pigeon's diet didn't include garlic and onions.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can cause serious life-threatening health problems in birds, such as seizures, and can also be fatal to pigeons. You should avoid giving chocolate products to pigeons.

 Often we do not understand how to provide a balanced diet to birds, including pigeons. We end up feeding them foods that do more harm than good. Feral pigeons often find food in the wild that can supplement what they don't get from us, but pet pigeons are solely dependent on humans for food. Therefore, it is important to understand a pigeon's diet and eating habits so that it can live a long and healthy life.

Pigeon Food FAQ

Is bread bad for pigeons?

 Even if pigeons can eat bread, that doesn't mean they necessarily should. While feeding pigeons bread while lounging on a park bench might be quite alluring and even tasty, some experts advise against doing so because it occasionally leads to more issues than it resolves. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The first reason is that many types of man-made bread do not necessarily contain all the nutritional value that pigeons need.
  2. The second reason is that it could also attract other animals and pests besides pigeons.
  3. Third, it can easily cause overcrowding when whole flocks of birds gather and compete for free meals.
  4. Finally, bread can make pigeons more dependent on human goodwill, dulling their natural foraging ability (even if they are only feeding on leftover human food).

 If you intend to help the pigeons, it is best to set up a small feeder in your garden where only a few birds can enjoy the occasional meal at their leisure.

What not to feed?

Your pigeon can eat almost any type of fruit or vegetable; the more varied his diet, the better.

  • Avocados, however, should not be consumed because they may be poisonous.
  • Pale vegetables with a lot of water - like celery or iceberg lettuce - don't contain a lot of nutrients, so they shouldn't be fed in large amounts.
  • Although it's normal for your bird to eat human food, avoid giving it foods that are too fatty or processed.
  • Junk food, alcohol, and caffeine should all be avoided.
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