20 Facts About Pigeons | What Do They Eat? How Long Do They Live?

Pigeons have always been friendly to humans and have helped them in ancient times in communication by travelling hundreds of miles in order to deliver their messages. Well, it would be therefore quite interesting to note some of the most fascinating facts concerning Pigeons.

Pigeons along with Doves belong to the family Columbidae and order Columbiformes. They usually have ‘stout-bodied’ posture, along with short necks and slender bills.

They are scattered all across the world, however, their greatest variety is found in the Indomalayan and Australasian regions. Creatures of this family show considerable differences in their physical appearances and characteristic features.

Generally, the larger forms of birds that are an integral part of the family Columbidae are the Pigeons and the smaller ones are the Doves. There are about 250 species of Pigeons that are known to us.

Because of their strong wings and powerful flight muscles, they are quite strong birds that can swiftly fly. Let’s explore and discover more about these creatures and inspect living conditions, how these creatures live, and what their livelihood consists of!

20 Interesting Facts About Pigeons

This article intends to explore and present the 21 most important and interesting facts concerning the lives and livelihood of Pigeons.

This article has sought to provide with their survival, livelihood, lifespan, distinctive characteristics, feeding habits, unique features, peculiar characteristics, and their differences with that of their family members, that is Doves.

1. What Do Pigeons Eat?

Pigeons are omnivorous creatures that can survive by feeding on anything and everything that they can easily obtain in their surroundings.

A Pigeon’s diet generally includes grains, fruits, seeds, green berries, and cereals. However, they are also known to feed on insects, spiders, earthworms, and even lizards, at times when they are really very hungry.

In urban areas, Pigeons are seen feeding on random human food wastes including food items such as burgers, fries, pizza, etc. Therefore, Pigeons generally feed on whatever food supplement they can arrange in their surroundings for their survival.

2. How Long Do Pigeons Live?

Pigeons are usually known to live between 6 to 9 years on average. However, their lifespan totally depends on their state of livelihood and chances of survival.

A feral Pigeon having an adequate supply of water, food supplements, and better conditions in the wild can generally survive for about 10 years. However, the average lifespan of Pigeons in the wild is about 3 to 5 years, which is quite shorter than its lifespan in captivity.

In captivity, Pigeons are known to live longer, about 15 years or even more! Pigeons are able to survive for a longer period of time with regular feeding and comfortable shelter.

In the wild, because of certain reasons, including lack of food items and favourable conditions, Pigeons don’t survive so long.

Also, Pigeons seldom live more than 2 to 3 years in urban areas due to various issues, including accidents and lack of security.

3. How Fast Do Pigeons Fly?

On average, Pigeons can fly at a speed of up to 77.6 mph. Pigeons are excellent flyers with the ability to fly at an altitude of 6000 feet or more!

Although Pigeons’ average speed of flight ranges between 60 to 80 mph, the flight speed of racing Pigeons is however greater than this average speed.

As per Wikipedia, a new world record of the fastest Pigeon flight in the Netherlands in 2019, where a Pigeon was observed to cover a distance of 239 km at a speed of 143.262 km/hr.

It is therefore evident that Pigeons are incredible at flying and are capable of flying at a very high speed. Because of their excellent flight capabilities, these creatures were traditionally used as people’s messengers, especially in war times, to travel between regions.

4. What Is the Difference Between Doves and Pigeons?

Doves and Pigeons, both belong to the same family, i.e. Columbidae. Because of this, both these creatures have similarities in their appearances and behaviours. However, there are few signs that indicate their dissimilarities.

Doves have a smaller stature compared to Pigeons that usually have comparatively larger ones. Pigeons are much larger in size and often stubbier than Doves. This is probably the most common and easiest way to differentiate between Doves and Pigeons.

Differences are also observed between these two creatures in their behaviours towards humans. Doves are quite socialised; however, Pigeons generally react indifferently with people. Their colour and appearance also differ considerably depending upon their varied species.

There is a significant difference in their calls too! Doves generally have more melodious calls, but Pigeons, on the other hand, are not that much melodious as compared to Doves. Another difference is that Pigeons have a more rounded tail, while Doves have a more pointed tail.

5. When Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?

From the time a Pigeon egg hatches, it takes around 6 months for a female Pigeon to lay her first eggs. However, this timeframe varies according to their diverse species.

Pigeons usually lay eggs once they are sexually matured, get paired, have a nutritious diet, and are healthy enough to lay eggs. A female Pigeon’s sexual maturity can be attained as early as 5 months of age, but that can also be delayed to a period of 9 months age.

Pigeons generally lay 2 eggs per month and are known to breed 8 times a year. Typically, it takes 17 to 18 days for a Pigeon to incubate and hatch the eggs.

6. Where Pigeons Go to Die?

Pigeons are known to seek a safe and lonely place where they can hide when they suffer from any sickness or when they are feeling weary and are probably going to die.

Isn’t it surprising that we encounter millions of Pigeons in our daily lives, but seldom find any Pigeon corpses lying around us? This is because of their tendency to hide out to some lonely places where they can hopefully stay safe and recover from their ailments.

However, if they aren’t able to recover, they generally die in those places where later on some scavengers find the Pigeon corpses and feed on them. Thus, Pigeons die lonely deaths in those hidden places where they last went to stay safe.

7. How Often Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?

Pigeons generally lay two eggs once per month. Therefore, the cycle of egg-laying by female Pigeons repeats about every 30 days when the weather cooperates equally.

As per researchers, the Pigeons can lay eggs all year round, i.e., 12 times a year. However, not all the eggs hatch since some of them might be infertile or were not perfectly incubated.

The site also says that Pigeons can even lay eggs every week if the weather is quite warm, but if the weather is colder, they lay eggs quite less often.

8. Why Do Pigeons Fly in Circles?

Pigeons generally fly in circles to navigate throughout their surroundings, sense the Earth’s magnetic field, smell the different odours in the air, and protect themselves from their predators.

Pigeons have an excellent sense of smell and they utilise their ability for better navigation. They fly in circles in order to sense the smell similar to their home and follow it accordingly. Flying in circles also helps them to find food and save energy while flying.

Pigeons can also sense the magnetic field of Earth and determine the path that leads to their native home. Pigeon flock fly in circles in order to keep themselves safe from their predators or any other threat.

9. How Do Pigeons Know Where to Go?

Pigeons get to know where they want to go or where their home is by the ‘compass and map mechanisms’ that is readily inbuilt in them.

A Pigeon’s ‘compass mechanism’ relies primarily on upon the Sun during the day and Stars at night. Pigeons can effectively utilise the position and angle of the Sun to determine the right direction of their flight.

Pigeons rely on the Earth’s magnetic field so that they can identify the correct path. They also use landmarks such as rivers, roads, highways, hills and mountains to locate their destination.

Recent researches point out that Pigeons may also rely on low-frequency infrasound to find and locate their home.

10. Do Pigeons Mate for Life?

Pigeons are loving birds that are usually monogamous in nature and are known to mate for life.

Mating for life is when a bird chooses the same partner for both bonding and nesting every year. Pigeons are basically monogamous birds that live as a couple for life.

However, if one of the partners dies, then the survivor generally attempts to find another partner.

11. How Far Can Pigeons Fly?

Pigeons can fly for about 600 to 700 miles in a day on average. However, since Pigeons are excellent at flying, some Pigeons can definitely exceed this average distance.

The website Wikipedia mentions a record of flight as long as 1100 miles by Pigeons in a competitive race.

The most exciting fact is that Pigeons can fly hundreds of miles without even stopping by to take a rest or have meals! No doubt that’s the main reason for the use of Pigeons as message carriers by humans since ancient times.

12. Where Do Pigeons Go at Night?

Pigeons don’t spend the nights in their own nests, rather they tend to seek other safe locations to spend the night and take some rest.

Pigeons search for places that could provide them shelter for the night, keep them warm, and protect them from their natural predators.

They generally abandon their nest at night since those may be in quite exposed areas. Pigeons often take shelter in locations such as roofs of houses, window ledges, or any other flat surface in order to spend the night securely.

13. How To Tell If a Pigeon Is Male or Female?

It is quite tricky to distinguish between a male and a female Pigeon at first sight. However, their sizes and appearances help in the correct identification of the two genders of Pigeons.

Acute observation is the basic requirement to distinguish between a male and a female Pigeon. Male Pigeons are generally larger in size than female Pigeons and have more of a rounded head, whereas the head of a female Pigeon appears somewhat flattened.

The eyes of a female Pigeon are round but a male Pigeon’s eyes aren’t as round as a female’s one. Also, male Pigeons are stronger than female ones.

14. What Does a White Pigeon Mean?

A white Pigeon is believed by many to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christianity. It symbolises positives such as peace, love, honour, a new beginning, and prosperity.

White Pigeons have spiritual meaning in many traditions. In ancient Greece, it was worshipped as a lovebird and goddess Aphrodite thought it to be sacred. In Christianity, these white Pigeons are the symbols of the Holy Spirit.

These small-sized, beautiful Pigeons are released during events such as public ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. They are often depicted as gentle and pure and symbolise the essence of loyalty.

15. Can Pigeons See in The Dark?

Pigeons aren’t nocturnal creatures; thus, they don’t have excellent ‘night vision’. However, their eyes are extremely sensitive to light which doesn’t make them totally blind.

Pigeons can generally see much clearer than humans. They have excellent visual accuracy and depth perception. They can even see more colours than humans. Their extraordinary visual capability helps them in navigation too.

Since Pigeons are diurnal creatures, they are able to see better during the day, however, that doesn’t mean that Pigeons are totally blind at night.

A little bit of moonlight or city lights are more than enough for Pigeons to see at night. Still, it is to be said that they have a bit poorer eyesight in the dark compared to the daytime.

16. How Long Can a Pigeon Live Without Food?

Pigeons can usually survive for a few weeks without food, however, they constantly need to have water without which they can’t survive for long.

Generally, Pigeons are able to find food items easily in the surroundings, however, if they are pushed out into the wild, they can’t certainly sustain for more than 1 to 3 days.

It is impossible for any creature to survive without water. So are Pigeons! Even they cannot survive for more than a day without water. Thus, food and water are essential for Pigeons to have regularly.

17. How To Get a Pigeon to Trust You?

Building trust in Pigeons can take several weeks or even months since this requires a lot of patience and loyalty. You can follow these methods to make Pigeons trust you and be your friends.

Firstly, search for any place that is frequently visited by Pigeons. Sit somewhere quiet and scatter food all around the region. Don’t make sudden moves and take care that no one else does anything wrong that startles the Pigeons.

If you already have one, don’t force them to be intimate and rather spend your time with them in order to create a strong bond between you two. All these can definitely make a Pigeon trust you.

18. How Fast Can a Pigeon Fly?

The average speed of a Pigeon’s flight is around 77.6 mph, however, they have been recorded flying at a speed of 92.5 mph.

We have already discussed that Pigeons are incredible at flying and are capable of travelling hundreds of miles even without taking a rest.

This is the reason why they have been used by ancient people to send and receive messages. Racing Pigeons are capable of flying at a much faster speed compared to other Pigeons.

19. Why Do Pigeons Stand on One Leg?

It is very common to find birds, including Pigeons, standing on one leg. They usually rest on one leg since it becomes quite comfortable for them to do so.

They are also known to stand on one leg in order to reduce their heat loss from their unfeathered legs. This technique helps them to keep themselves warm during chilly days.

20. Do Pigeons Die After Mating?

Well, this is a myth that Pigeons die after they mate. This is not true, Pigeons don’t die after they mate, rather they are monogamous and mate for life.

Pigeons are known to live for about 6 years to 9 years on average and in between this timeframe, they produce 2 eggs at an interval of around 30 days.

Pigeons usually spend their lives with their partners, and if by chance one of them dies, the other finds some other partner which might take a few months.

However, in general, Pigeons tend to spend their lives with their one and only partner. Thus, it is not at all true that they die once they mate.