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Food Guide: What Do Pigeons Eat? What Should You Feed Them

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Pigeons are birds that you can find in almost every city around the world.

This bird mostly pecks on leftovers and discarded food lying on the ground or in garbage bins. However, this is not a proper pigeon's diet.

A pigeon is typically a granivores bird that mainly feeds on seeds and grains. Along with that, pigeons like to eat fruits, vegetables and also feed on insects, bugs, snails, and worms. Though they do not eat worms and snails very often, such foods provide them with fats, proteins, and other nutrients. They are not very picky eaters and can eat almost anything and everything edible.

Do you find this article on pigeons interesting? Give a read to these fun fact articles on what do frogs eat and what do iguanas eat here on Kidadl.

What do pigeons eat in winter?

A pigeon is a scavenger bird and will devour on almost anything that they find edible. They are pretty flexible birds when it comes to eating. The list of foods that they gorge on seems endless. They like eating seeds, grains, pulses, beans, legumes, veggies, fruits, nuts, small insects, human foods, and anything that they find lying around.

Pigeons in the cities pretty much eat the same during the winter as they do during other times of the year. But pigeons that do not reside in cities often face difficulties in finding food during the winter season. As pigeons do not migrate to long distances, they struggle to find food during winter. Winter is the time of year when food sources are often scarce.

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

What do pigeons eat in the wild?

Pigeons in the cities have very well adapted to human settlements and eating habits. Therefore, they pretty much eat everything that humans eat. Pigeons primarily depend on humans for their food supply. But that's not the case with the pigeons in the wild. Wild pigeons' eating habits are very different from that of pigeons in the cities. The wild ones depend on nature for their survival. Listed below are some of the food that wild pigeons generally eat.

Seeds: They eat the seeds that they find in nature from grass, plants, wildflowers, and oilseeds.

Grains: They feed on any grains that they find in the wild or on any farmland. They mainly eat grains like corn, millet, wheat, rice, and barley.

Fruits: They mainly feed on small and seedless fruits like berries in particular.

Vegetables: They eat leafy green veggies, legumes, and beans.

Insects: They occasionally eat insects, bugs, and worms which nourish them with fats, proteins, and other nutrients.

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

List Of Foods That Pigeons Can Eat

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

If you want to feed wild or stray pigeons or raise them as a pet, you must be acquainted with the foods they can eat and are healthy for them. You can refer to the following pigeon food list to create a healthy diet for them.

Pulses and Cereals: Pulses contain essential nutrients. Pulses are a rich source of protein, vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium salts, whereas; cereals are laden with carbohydrates, protein, fats, and minerals. Both pulses and cereals are beneficial for birds, and pigeons, in particular. Therefore, they should be served as the primary diet for pigeons. However, they should be given in moderation to avoid your pigeons from becoming overweight.

Wheat: Wheat contains carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins and has high dietary fiber and antioxidants. Pigeons should have wheat in smaller amounts.

Corn: Corn is a rich source of protein, calcium, and calories. Corn has a high nutritional and energy value and is good for the digestive system of pigeons. However, it would be best if you did not give them corn in large portions.

Oats: Oats are filled with fiber and protein. They are good for pigeons' nervous system and blood circulation. They also make their muscles and feathers healthy. Oats are good for pigeons during winter. But, pigeons that are producing eggs should avoid oats as it may affect eggshell formation.

Barley: Barley supplies dietary fiber, iron, vitamins, and carbohydrates. It is therefore good for pigeons during winter. Barley is safe for an adult pigeon digestive system but is not suitable for young pigeons.

Rice: Rice is full of carbohydrates and small amounts of iron and fiber. Some birds, including pigeons, eat rice, but it is not very beneficial and does not have much nutrition. But you can feed them rice mixed with other foods.

Rye: Rye has dietary fiber and sugars, but it does not have a high nutrition content for pigeons. Nonetheless, you can still give it to pigeons along with other grains.

Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are full of essential nutrients and healthy fats. They are laden with vitamins and minerals. This seed is beneficial for pigeons for their reproductive health and also sustains them during cold weather.

Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are fat-rich seeds filled with copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. This seed is good for healthy feathers in pigeons and helps them to keep warm during the cold season.

Pigeons and doves mainly peck on seeds. Nowadays, pet stores sell seed mixes that cater to pigeons' and doves' needs and diets. This seed mix is laden with high nutritional value. Therefore, feeding them with this pigeon or dove seed mix will be beneficial for their health. 

Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are packed with essential nutrients that the grains and seeds often lack. They have high levels of vitamins, calcium, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Pigeons like to eat all kinds of leafy greens, but they mainly feed on spinach, lettuce, cabbage, kale. The water content in the greens also helps in keeping pigeons hydrated. A pigeon's need for water is higher than other birds, and the green leafy veggies help them stay hydrated and healthy.

Peas: Peas are a good source of vitamins, protein, minerals, and nitrates with low-fat content. Peas help pigeons by keeping their immune system healthy and reducing sickness rates and fatigue. They are also easy for the pigeons to digest. Pigeons enjoy eating dried peas and split peas as it is easy to consume giving a high nutritional return.

Other vegetables that pigeons like to eat include broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and legumes.

As pigeons do not have teeth, they like to eat any small and seedless fruit. Pigeons also like grapes, raisins, bananas, plums, cherries, blueberries, and most berries.

Pigeons mainly depend on human food products for their survival. They love eating almost all kinds of food that humans eat. Pigeons eat bread, bread crumbs, popcorn, cooked fish, meat, eggs, dairy products, and packed foods. Consuming human food can be healthy and beneficial to pigeons. However, some of the foods may contain high levels of calories, fat, chemicals, and preservatives, which can deteriorate pigeons' health and lives. You can include human food in moderation and small quantities in the pigeon diet.

Apart from all the food offerings, pigeons should also have access to fresh drinking water. Pigeons need more water to stay hydrated than other birds. They can usually quench their thirst by feeding on luscious greens; however, they must be offered enough fresh water to drink.

What To Not Feed Pigeons

As pigeons devour any kind of food, they often feed on items, such as grit that are detrimental to their health. Sometimes people also feed pigeons foods that are not suitable for their diet. Listed below are some of the foods that you should not include in a pigeons' diet. It would be best if you avoided feeding pigeons any of these foods.

Stale Food and Leftovers: Stale 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 may even cause death. That is why you shouldn't feed pigeons stale food and leftovers.

Salty Foods: Although pigeons like to munch on salty foods and salted snacks, it isn't good for their body. Feeding pigeons with salty food can be fatal as it causes dehydration.

Spicey and Deep-Fried Foods: Food with high spice content and deep-fried foods are unhealthy for pigeons. They are high in calories and fat content, which are toxic for pigeons' wellbeing. These foods have very little to no nutritional benefit. They should not be a part of pigeons' diet and, therefore, avoided.

Avocados: The chemical called persin in avocados is damaging to birds' internal body systems. Avocados are fatal for pigeons' hearts, liver, kidneys, and lungs. It would be best if you did not feed avocados to pigeons and birds in general.

Caffeine and Alcohol: Pigeons often end up drinking beverages thrown in the trash. These beverages may consist of caffeine or alcohol, which are toxic for pigeons. Such drinks cause heart issues and may also be fatal for a pigeon.

Apple Seeds: The seeds of apples contain amygdalin. Chewing on apple seeds causes amygdalin to release cyanide into the bloodstream, which can be toxic for pigeons and may also be fatal for them. Therefore, you should not feed apple seeds to pigeons.

Garlic and Onions: Garlic and onions contain chemicals that can cause anemia in pigeons. They can also irritate the mouth and esophagus of the birds. It would be best to skip garlic and onions from the pigeon's diet.

Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can cause severe life-threatening medical conditions in birds, such as seizures, and can also be fatal for pigeons. You should avoid feeding any chocolate products to pigeons.

Many times, we don't understand how to provide a balanced diet to birds, including pigeons. We end up feeding them food that does more harm than good. Wild pigeons often find food in nature that can supplement what they are not getting from us, but pet pigeons solely depend on humans for their diet. Therefore, it is important to understand a pigeon's diet and eating habits so that they can live a long, healthy life.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do pigeons eat, then why not take a look at what do insects eat or common pigeon facts?

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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