How Long Do Pigeons Live? Learning About These Urban Dwellers

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Outdoor & NatureLearn more
On spotting a feral pigeon, most people wonder, how long do pigeons live

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Flocks of pigeons are a common sight in urban cities around the globe.

You might find it surprising, but these birds are viewed as pets as well. Pigeons are also known as rock doves or rock pigeons in various parts of the world; they are infamous as they carry diseases in their droppings.

Wild pigeons are bluish-grey in color. The colors differ in other variants of pigeons, and these are mainly the ones that escaped as domesticated birds and are now feral pigeons. The eyes of pigeons are usually bright orange. Pigeons have lived with humans for thousands of years, and the first evidence of these birds was found by archeologists in Mesopotamia, which dated back to 3000 BCE. In our modern times, millions of pigeons have served as messengers. Pigeons were carried on warships; in the event of an attack, they served as messengers with the details of a sinking ship. The earliest use of pigeons as messengers dates back to fifth century Syria and Persia; all of the major cities were connected by messages delivered through these peace-keeping birds. A dove and pigeon belong to the same family of birds.

After reading about the lifespan of a rock pigeon and other such pigeon species, do check how long do Pekin ducks live and how long do owls live.

How long do pigeons live as pets?

Pigeons are one the smartest birds out there; they can easily learn your household routines, and they do perfectly fine with other pets in a household.

Pigeons are one the best domestic pets. You might be wondering why you would keep a pigeon as a pet and not other birds such as parakeets or parrots; the thing with this specific bird is that, unlike other birds, it does not make that much sound. They are friendly and docile in nature. The average lifespan of a pigeon that is kept as a pet or in captivity ranges between 6-15 years; this is another reason why pigeons are preferred as pets by many people. If you take good care of your pigeons, their life span can go beyond six years to something in the range of 15 years. Pigeons need a good home so that they can maintain their health. Clean water and food such as seeds are also required for these birds in their pen or coop. Doves have the same lifespan as pigeons. The question of how long do pigeons live changes completely when we talk about pigeons living in a world of wilderness. A pigeon inside your home will love to see himself in a mirror.

How long do city pigeons live?

Pigeons in the wild live a completely different life when compared to those living as pets or in captivity. 

The actual lifespan of a pigeon is somewhere around six years. Pigeons in the wild are not lucky like their captive counterparts because of the fact that they are targeted by predators and have to deal with health conditions or sometimes have difficulty finding water and food, which results in an improper diet. Predators like to target pigeons in the wild when they are young and inexperienced with their ability to fly. Animals such as cats, foxes, ferrets, and snakes are known to hunt down pigeons, and another predator who can fly is the falcon which is also known to attack pigeons. Urban city pigeons only have a lifespan that ranges between three to six years. Pigeons feed on seeds and any leftovers in the wild. Pigeons in the wild can live up to 10 years, but since there are so many of them dying young, the average lifespan comes down heavily. A flock of pigeons sitting on the ledges of buildings is always ready against their predators.

Feral pigeons nest in high-rise buildings in cities.

Racing Pigeons Lifespan

You might not know, but there is an actual pigeon sport out there that is viewed by thousands of people around the world. This sport’s name is pigeon racing.

Pigeon racing or pigeon flying is a sport for homing pigeons. These pigeons are developed through cross-breeding and are trained for maximum distances and speeds in flight. In the history of Europe, the earliest record of this sport taking place comes from Belgium in 1818, where the first pigeon race was held. The lifespan of these pigeons can be increased if they are also well taken care of. They can live up to 20 years if they are kept with extreme care, whereas feral pigeons only live for an average of three to six years. These racing pigeons mate their entire life, and sometimes the breeding pairs can stay together for their whole life.

The Life Cycle Of The Feral Pigeon

The nesting and mating habits of feral pigeons are quite different from birds of other species, and you might find some of these habits to be quite surprising.

Before the process of laying their white eggs or making a nest, feral pigeons have to find a mate for themselves. Many mate pairs will be together for their entire life unless they are not able to lay eggs. When looking for a mate, the male pigeon will fluff up his neck. After the pair has been formed, a feral pigeon's next important task is the construction of a nest. A nest is a safe place where all the eggs will be laid. The adult mating pair would wait for their young ones to hatch. Pigeons usually search for a place to build their nest where they find some privacy for nesting. After the female feral pigeon has rested for a couple of days in the nest, she will proceed to lay eggs; younger females might end up laying more eggs. The color of the eggs can vary according to environmental conditions such as weather and season. The eggs are incubated for about 18 days before they hatch; both male and female pigeons take turns to incubate the eggs. After the eggs have hatched, baby feral pigeons do not leave their nest for about a month, and sometimes it takes much longer. Baby pigeons are pretty much helpless and depend on their mating pair for their food requirements. Their feathers develop in a couple of weeks, and their overall color changes as well. When they are fully grown, young pigeons leave their nest and continue developing their adult color. Populations of rock pigeons have their nesting sites along coastal cliffs.

Where are all the dead pigeons?

At one point or another, everything comes to an end. It’s a fact of life that cannot be escaped by humans, birds, or animals.

Whenever wild pigeons are not feeling well or are hurt, they hide in a place that is secure for them. This is the exact reason why we do not see dead pigeon bodies around us. The majority of pigeons die in places that are hidden, and their corpses are consumed by scavengers. The life span of these wild birds is relatively short. If a pigeon feels that it is sick, it will recover in a safe place so that the flock is not endangered by disease. Pigeons look for dark holes, ventilation shafts, and other components of buildings to hide in. If this was not the case, we would have seen pigeons dropping dead from the sky above. Animals such as cats and foxes are big-time opportunists; they will instantly snatch away the corpses of these dead pigeons as soon as they hit the ground. The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the wild and another predator of pigeons.

What causes pigeons to die suddenly?

Pigeons, like other birds, are susceptible to many diseases around them. Pigeons are known to carry diseases, and this is the reason why they are known as zoonotic creatures.

Canker is one of the diseases that can affect pigeons in a very drastic manner and can lead to the death of the bird as well. It is one of the most common pigeon diseases, and it spreads naturally through drinking water and parents feeding their young ones. The infected pigeon’s level of activity will drop down drastically; there will be a loss of weight and an increased water intake. Young birds are the most prone to this disease.

Coccidiosis is another disease that can affect pigeons. It is highly infectious and very common among birds. It is caused by a protozoan that goes down to infect the intestines of the pigeons and other birds. The birds which are infected by this are those ones who have been under heavy stress, such as racing for miles or lacking food or water. Adult pigeons can come in contact with this disease through the droppings of other pigeons who have been affected by the very same disease. Infected birds lose the desire to do anything and often close their eyes. Droppings are watery and become greenish in color. A lot of weight is lost by the bird, and sometimes the young bird might die because of this disease.

There are natural causes as well, such as the aging of a pigeon. The decline in immunity, agility and sensory ability might cause them to suddenly die as well. However, pigeons live a decently long life, and they sure do make a great pet.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How long do pigeons live?' then why not take a look at 'How long do parrots live?', or 'Pigeon Facts.'


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Kidadl Team

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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