• Consider barbed wire along sills and ledges, and porcupine wire in ceiling joists and fans.
  • If your store or warehouse is in a city, and has been around a while, employing no successful way of deterring pigeons, you may have your work cut out for you. Aggressively rerouting the birds is time-consuming and may try your patience. However, with dedication and diligence, rehoming these birds can be accomplished. Employ a variety of all of these methods.

    Contents

    No Solution is Absolute

    Short of lethally harming or exterminating pigeons, there is no sure-fire way to get rid of them. Remember, these birds have likely homed somewhere nearby for many years. They exist on just about anything for sustenance and they are year-round breeders.

    Your best bet is to employ these methods of discouraging pigeons from roosting near your home or business. Dissuading these city pests is your only sure way of preventing the damage they unleash on you and your property.

    Cleaning Up the Pigeons’ Mess

    If pigeons have trashed your porch, patio or balcony, you can’t simply hose-away the mess. Because of the bacteria and fungi inherent in pigeon excrement, you’ll need to thoroughly remove their droppings and nests, using a proper method.

    • First, wearing a mask and gloves, remove the initial debris and throw the nests away. (This is not something your child should take to school for “show-and-tell”!).
    • Then sweep off any surface where pigeon debris has gathered.
    • Use a strong antibacterial cleaner, or, where appropriate, chlorine bleach (with great care) to scrub the area.
    • If permitted, use a hose to remove the cleaner.
    • Make sure the area is free from any caustic properties, such as in the use of chlorine bleach.

    If your building or apartment community doesn’t allow the use of a hose on your balcony, inquire with management on how to remove pigeon debris. There are many professional cleaning services who perform this task regularly.

    Video Guide

    Points to Consider

    Lastly, remember there are over 300 different members of the pigeon family. From desert doves, to rock doves to mourning doves, to the more common city version, the rock pigeon, these birds have laid claim to the area around your home for centuries. Their instincts and long memories have them returning to their home again and again. Changing their pattern won’t happen overnight, but your resilience will eventually pay off.

    Now tell us how do you get rid of pigeons? Do you have other means you employ?

    Need to hire an exterminator? Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.

    Why should I get rid of pigeons?

    Besides the fact that they are prolific breeders that make a huge mess, they carry parasites and diseases that endanger people (children being particularly vulnerable).

    Is it legal to shoot pigeons off my property?

    It is illegal in all states to shoot a wild or nesting bird. You may not use a pellet gun or any other weapons, no matter how seemingly benign.

    How do I remove pigeons from my property?

    Some of the most common methods include
    1. Fasten a wind-chime, aluminum foil pan, a Mylar-type balloon, or regular balloons.
    2. Use a decoy owl or hawk, or shiny rubber snakes to scare away the pigeons.
    3. Use anti-roosting spikes.
    4. Use commercial gel repellent.
    5. Attach a child’s coiled “slinky” toy along your balcony railing.
    6. Use a weather-proof string to create a barrier for your balcony.
    7. Fix mesh screen along the inside of your railing to prevent entry onto your porch or balcony.
    8. Use motion-activated sprinklers for your front lawn/yard to scare the pigeons away.
    9. Use ultrasonic devices.
    10. Try homemade organic deterrents for your home and garden.

    What home remedies help get rid of pigeons?

    Homemade repellents include mixtures and sprays based on chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, and vinegar.

    What does scare pigeons away?

    1. Ultrasonic bird repellents.
    2. Automatic water jets for bird discouragement.
    3. Fake predators.
    4. Bird-repellent gel.
    5. Pungent smelling home remedies.

    Pigeons can be great pets but they can also be a menace to your garden when uninvited. Once they choose your garden as a nesting ground, they will eat the plants you’re trying to grow. These birds may be harmless but they can cause significant damage to your property, and possibly introduce disease-causing organisms into your premises. Here are a few tips on how to keep pigeons out of your garden.

    How to Keep Pigeons Out of Your Garden

    What Attracts Pigeons?

    Like most pests, pigeons need a safe area with a stable supply of food to survive. Once they find a stable food source, they’ll likely create several nests because they like to live in flocks. They’re not especially picky dieters, which makes it difficult to get rid of them. They’ll be happy to dine on exposed junk as much as seeds from your vegetable garden.

    Keeping Pigeons Away from Your Garden

    Keeping pigeons at bay may require you to execute a multi-pronged strategy. You need to start by surveying your house and make nesting areas inhospitable.

    • Make roosting areas unappealing.
    • Install anti-roosting spike strips on strategic spots to deter them from landing.
    • Install sloping covers to ledges and window sills.
    • Tie a string across roosting areas to make landing uncomfortable for the pigeons.
    • Don’t feed them.
    • Get rid of other food sources.

    Here Are a Few Bird Deterrents to Keep Them Off Your Garden.

    Spray them with a hose. This method works only if you catch the pigeons before they build their nests. Scare them away by spraying them with the hose as soon as you see them in your garden. An automatic water jet or sprinkler will also deter pigeons.

    Install a scarecrow. The good old scarecrow trick can go a long way in helping to deter these pesky birds. Consider a scarecrow with the silhouette of a hawk that can make noise and move. It’s also crucial to change the decoy’s position every so often lest the birds figure out that there’s no real danger.

    Use reflective surfaces. Adorning your garden with CDs or other shiny surfaces can temporarily affect the pigeons’ eyesight, effectively deterring them from nesting in your garden.

    Protect sheds. Installing bird netting is also a good way to protect your garden from unwanted visitors and birds.

    Guard the bird feeders. If you have bird feeders, pigeons can easily infest your garden. They’re known to scare off smaller birds and stealing as much food as they can get. As such, your best bet is to keep them away altogether.

    Sometimes, you need to get rid of pigeons without repelling beneficial birds. In such cases, you can invest in ultrasonic devices or gel repellents that are designed to confuse or deter pigeons from your garden.

    Bottom LineWith these tips on how to keep pigeons out of your garden, you should be able to keep your garden free from destructive birds. If you’ve tried all methods to no avail, consider calling professionals to help you out. Pigeons Solutions has trained individuals to help you with your pigeon pest problem.

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    Few things are more annoying than walking down the street only for a pigeon to poop on you from overhead. Even worse, that poop can cover your car or property in a nasty, slimy goo. Pigeons can also end up hoarding birdseed from more desired species and are generally considered an urban and rural pest.

    But fear not, we’re here to tell you how to get rid of pigeons and keep these critters away from your home.

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    Table of Contents

    Getting to Know Pigeons

    While they’ve always had something of a bad reputation, pigeons have a more noble place in our history than you might expect. However, a growing lack of natural predators has made these birds a nuisance in cities around the world, despite a few species facing (or reaching) extinction due to human expansion.

    What Does a Pigeon Look Like?

    Pigeons consist of the 310-species Columbidae family. These birds are technically doves, with the rock dove and turtledove being the two most notable species. What exactly separates a pigeon from a dove is almost entirely aesthetic, with scientists usually going by size (doves being smaller), while secular and religious circles consider any dove that’s not entirely white to be a pigeon.

    Regardless of which description you choose, all pigeons are edible (in Pittsburgh, PA, they’re even sometimes referred to as “Pittsburgh Chicken”) and have been used as a food animal for centuries. They’re also easy to domesticate, having been the first known bird to be made into pets.

    What do Pigeons Eat?

    City-based pigeons have become scavengers, giving up their normal diet for any scraps they can find, but generally prefer fruit and seeds. Many species have adapted to eat worms and insects, with at least one species preferring them.

    Pigeon Habitat

    Depending on the species, pigeons either prefer the ground or trees. However, one thing they all have in common is a habit of building rather flimsy nests out of twigs in which they’ll lay one to two eggs at a time.

    These nests are generally kept in the same location the species prefers to roam, with species such as the rock dove choosing high ledges and rooftops when in an urban setting due to the shortage of trees.

    On the whole, pigeons can be found in almost every part of the world, save for the most extremely hot or cold regions. Some species tend to be confined to small areas, while others have spread out alongside humans. The single most prevalent species is the rock dove, which can be found throughout the world in large numbers.

    The Pigeon Dilemma

    Credit: AGMB Photography

    Pigeons are extremely resourceful and surprisingly intelligent. As a result, they’ve learned to cope with human expansion and adapt to urban settings easily. Unfortunately, this means they can become quite the nuisance.

    Healthy pigeon poop has no smell, but urban pigeons are scavengers and often victim to disease and birth defects. Their poop can get very runny and contain high acidity, wreaking havok on your clean car, windows, walls, and sidewalks. The acidity can even degrade stone, concrete, and other materials over time.

    Due to the lack of natural predators, pigeons tend to quickly overpopulate urban and rural areas. They’ll congregate wherever food is available, making it more difficult to attract songbirds. They can be noisy, messy, and go after that pie you just sat out to cool. In other words, pigeons, like relatives, are often best loved at a distance.

    How to Get Rid of Pigeons

    Getting rid of pigeons is a lot easier than it might first seem, although it can take a bit of time to get rid of larger infestations. Here are just a few of the ways to get pigeons off of your property.

    Pigeon Traps

    A pigeon trap works the same way as other humane critter traps. Simply set it up, add some attractive food (fruits, vegetables, and cracked corn are some tasty options) for bait, and then wait.

    Many of these traps, such as the Tomahawk Pigeon Trap, have entrances on opposite sides, allowing you to catch a pigeon per door before having to empty the trap. Just make sure to transport the pigeons a few miles away before releasing, as they’re pretty good at finding their way back.

    Another popular trap is a trigger type trap which catches them in a net. It’s a little harder to set up but you can get the same results at a fraction of the cost.

    Pigeons on the Balcony

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    You can use a slinky or insulation wire on the railing to help keep pigeons from perching there. Simply spread the wire so each loop is about 1.5 inches apart. You can then use duct tape to attach it to the railing at 2/3 inch intervals.

    While a simple tactic, pigeons find it quite uncomfortable to land on. Ensure there’s no attractive food source present, and you’ll easily be able to keep pigeons off the balcony.

    Pigeons on the Roof

    It’s actually not difficult to keep a pigeon from roosting on your roof. The most popular answer is to use anti-roosting spike strips, which can be purchased at many hardware or garden shops. These spikes aren’t sharp, but they make it difficult for the pigeon to land.

    The Truth About Popular Kill Methods

    You might hear people suggesting easy ways to kill pigeons, but these methods are not only cruel in intent, they can sometimes affect other species you may not want to kill. Here are three of the most popular suggestions for killing pigeons and why you shouldn’t use them:

    • Alka-Seltzer – Despite their old motto, Alka Seltzer will not rescue you from pigeons. This myth was based on the idea that birds can’t pass gas and therefore the antacid would expand until the bird explodes. In reality, however, they can simply regurgitate the foamy mess using the same techniques they use for feeding their young.
    • Poison – Poison is a big no-no. Even if you’re trying to feed the target pigeon by hand, it’s an easy matter for a sparrow or other bird to swoop in and snatch the poisoned food. Even worse, leaving poison out for the pigeon exposes every nearby critter to the risk of ingestion and sickness or death.
    • Rice – This is a very popular old wives’ tale. Rice won’t kill a bird and is actually part of many species’ diets. Despite what popular takes claim, uncooked rice takes a long time to soak up liquids. By the time it could potentially become a threat to the bird, they’ll have either digested or passed the grains. Use this method only if you really like having pigeons around.

    How to Keep Pigeons Away

    Simply getting rid of pigeons isn’t enough, as they have a habit of returning no matter how many times you kick them out. Using visual deterrents and chemical or herbal repellents will help keep these pesky critters from turning your home into a gathering spot.

    It can also help to make your property as uninviting as possible by removing those things which can attract pigeons in the first place.

    Pigeon Deterrents

    As bold as pigeons are around humans, they can easily be scared away at the sight of potential predators. Try placing a ceramic owl or fake snake in places they’re prone to congregate. As with other pests, it’s a good idea to shift these decoys around occasionally so the birds don’t suspect they’re just decor.

    A kite with a hawk shape can also be used to scare pigeons away, as they resemble a predator in flight. Foil balloons and other reflective objects can make life difficult for pigeons and other birds, as they have trouble seeing when near these surfaces.

    Further options can also work against other critters, such as installing a motion-sensitive water sprinkler. These are great because it means it waters your lawn or garden at the same time it scares away pests. Sonic deterrents do a great job, but can irritate any four-legged family members, so they’re not for everyone.

    See Also: How to Keep Geese Away

    Pigeon Repellents

    Many predator sprays and crystals will work on pigeons, if the species is a potential bird hunter. These products are either concentrated urine or chemical replications of urine. Pigeons and other pests will get a whiff and believe a hunter is on the loose. However, these products don’t always work and can wash out when it rains.

    A homemade pigeon repellent with a great track record can be quite easy to make and works well against a variety of other pests.

    Begin by mincing two dozen chili peppers and add them to a half gallon of water. Shake well and place in direct sunlight to ferment for five days. Finally, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the mix and shake again, then spray your plants or surfaces with it.

    The capsicum will irritate a pigeon’s (or other critter’s) feet and discourage them from returning to that spot. Spray every few days to keep the effect going.

    There’s a really nice option on the market for repelling pigeons and other birds hoping to perch on your railings. This bird repellent gel can be applied to surfaces, making them either slippery, sticky or tacky. The gel paste won’t harm the bird, but stepping on the texture will drive a bird nuts (have you ever seen a cat step in something sticky?), making them reluctant to land on that spot again.

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    Removing Attractants

    By far, one of the best ways to keep a pigeon away is to make him less interested in being there to begin with. Get rid of any standing water, which can be a means for both drinking and bathing. You will also want to make sure all trash is covered and inaccessible to avoid any free snacks.

    Bird feeders will always prove an issue, although you can purchase designs with small entrances which are only big enough for songbirds to enter. Your garden can also be a problem as there’s no way to hide crops from prying eyes, but you can add netting to prevent pigeons from getting at your tomatoes.

    A healthy bunny needs a balanced diet. But can rabbits eat cauliflower as part of a healthy diet?

    Greens and veggies like celery, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are an important source of vitamins, minerals and fiber for rabbits.

    However, this doesn’t mean our bunnies should eat every vegetable we have spare.

    Some vegetables aren’t safe for our rabbits to eat, and others have lots of sugar, which rabbits are unable to digest properly.

    Let’s look at whether cauliflower is safe to introduce to our rabbits’ diet, and if so, what nutritional benefits it could have.

    Can rabbits have cauliflower?

    The short answer to “can rabbits eat cauliflower?” is: yes!

    Rabbits can eat cauliflower.

    Cauliflower is just over 92% water, but the remaining 8% is a great source of protein, potassium, vitamin C and fiber.

    Cauliflower for rabbits

    Rabbits need a high fiber diet to keep their digestive system running well.

    Fiber is relatively hard to digest, which might sound like a bad thing, but not for your rabbit.

    Their gut, and the bacteria within it, are designed to extract nutrients from high fiber foods, and work most efficiently when they’re processing a high fiber diet.

    Furthermore, giving your rabbit vegetables high in fiber, alongside grass and hay, helps them feel full after a meal, which in turn prevents them over-eating and protects them from obesity.

    What parts of a cauliflower can rabbits eat?

    Can rabbits eat cauliflower leaves, as well as the florets?

    Whilst you might think that only the head of a cauliflower should be eaten, actually the whole thing is edible!

    This includes the florets, the leaves, and the stems too!

    Every single part of the cauliflower plant is healthy for your pet rabbit, and each part is a great source of that much-needed fiber.

    Do rabbits eat cauliflower leaves?

    You can offer your rabbit every part of the cauliflower plant.

    Your rabbit may not enjoy all the parts of a cauliflower, however.

    This shouldn’t alarm you if it is the case – just like us, our rabbits have their own tastes and preferences.

    Even if your rabbit seems to only enjoy one part of the cauliflower and not the rest – just the leaves, for example – this shouldn’t alarm you.

    It is fine for your rabbit to only consume one part of the cauliflower!

    Do rabbits eat cauliflower?

    Keeping your rabbit’s diet close to that of a wild rabbit means that your bunny will get lots of the right kind of nutrients.

    But is cauliflower something a wild rabbit would normally eat?

    If you’ve seen wild rabbits before, it’s likely they’ve been in a field, munching away on the grass!

    However, wild rabbits don’t just eat grass, they can also be regularly seen foraging for different vegetables and leafy greens to nibble.

    Can rabbits eat cauliflower in the wild?

    Cauliflower grows all across the world.

    In the US, 90% of commercial cauliflower crops are grown in California (there’s a catchy cauliflower fact for you).

    But it is also a popular vegetable for people to grow, so you may find it in people’s gardens across the country as well as in fields.

    Cauliflower can be grown all year long, but is seen more in spring and autumn.

    This suggests that wild rabbits can easily access cauliflowers, and reinforces the fact that it can be a healthy part of a pet rabbit’s diet.

    Feeding your pet rabbit cauliflower therefore doesn’t make it so different from a wild rabbit, who would naturally forage for and eat this vegetable!

    How much cauliflower should I give my rabbit?

    Like any new food you give your rabbit, you should introduce cauliflower into your bunny’s diet gradually.

    It is best to introduce a new food slowly, over at least a couple of weeks.

    This will help your rabbit adjust to the new food.

    It can also help you to determine whether your rabbit actually likes cauliflower, or whether it prefers other vegetables in its diet.

    Choosing cauliflower for rabbits

    If you give your rabbit cauliflower, make sure you don’t use it to replace other foods that also provide your rabbit with important nutrients.

    Vegetables should always be used as an accompaniment to your rabbit’s main food – which should consist of grass or hay, like it would for a wild rabbit.

    80% of your rabbit’s diet should be made up of grass and hay, and the remaining 20% can be comprised of fresh veg and perhaps a vet-recommended rabbit pellet mix.

    Can rabbits eat cauliflower everyday?

    Don’t forget you can give your rabbit numerous vegetables, you don’t need to limit it to just one type.

    In fact, giving your rabbit the same fresh veggies every day can restrict the nutrient profile of their overall diet.

    So mixing things up makes life not just more interesting for them, but healthier too!

    Can rabbits eat cauliflower – a summary

    The fiber and vitamins in cauliflower make it an excellent choice to add to your pet rabbit’s diet.

    Rabbits can eat the stalks, leaves and florets of cauliflower, although you might find they prefer one bit over another.

    If you decide to introduce cauliflower to your rabbit’s diet, monitor your rabbit’s weight and any changes in its health over this period.

    Firstly to make sure they’re actually eating it (because if not you can just stop offering it!) and secondly to check that it isn’t causing any digestive upset.

    Do rabbits eat cauliflower in your home?

    How did your bunny react to this tasty vegetable?

    We’d love to hear about your experiences introducing cauliflower to your rabbit, so please share them in the comments section!

    Sources:

    PDSA

    Claire Speight, ‘The Nutritional Needs of Rabbits’, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 32:5 (2017), pp. 144-147.

    Rabbit Diet – Plants, Vegetables & Fruit

    Fresh plants provide your rabbit with a range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients as well as additional fibre. They also make your rabbit’s diet more interesting by providing different flavours and textures, and give you plenty of scope for encouraging your rabbit to browse and forage in a more natural way.

    Many different plants, vegetables, and herbs are suitable for rabbits. You can feed some daily, where as others, that are high in sugar or starch, should only be a rare treat.

    Fruits & Vegetables

    Many of the common fruits and vegetables humans eat are also safe for rabbits. The part of the plant a vegetable is from is a good guide to its nutritional balance and its place in your rabbit’s diet.

    Bulbs Onion, leek, garlic Avoid feeding these types of vegetables as they are generally either toxic or contain high levels of starch.
    Tubers Potato, yam
    Seeds Peas, beans, lentil, pulses
    Roots Carrot, parsnip, turnip, swede, beetroot These parts of plants store energy, so are high in sugars, and should make up a smaller portion of your rabbit’s diet.
    Fruits Cucumber, sweet pepper, pumpkin, apple, squash, blackberries, strawberry, raspberry, pear, pineapple, tomato (not leaves)
    Stalks Celery, chard, broccoli The green leafy parts of vegetables are best for rabbits to eat; these are low in calories and high in fibre.
    Leaves Cabbage, spinach, carrot leaves, cabbage/broccoli leaves, kale, blackberry/raspberry leaves, strawberry leaves, romaine lettuce (not iceburg), radish tops,
    Flower Bud Broccoli/cauliflower heads
    Seeds Although most of the seeds and grains humans eat are not poisonous to rabbits they are high-energy foods and not suitable for rabbits in large quantities. Remember rabbits are primarily leaf eaters not seed eaters.

    Keep in mind that some plants are toxic, and some plants are a mix – for example whilst tomatos are safe to eat, the leaves of the tomato plant are poisonous.

    Feeding Vegetable Off Cuts

    In addition to sharing the vegetables you eat, rabbits can also eat many of the parts of vegetable plants that humans discard because they are tough and fibrous – the same characteristics that make them good for rabbits. These include cauliflower leaves, broccoli stalks, and carrot leaves.

    Supermarkets often strip vegetables of the leaves before sale so try visiting markets or farm shops to source your fresh food. Not all parts of vegetables plants are safe to eat though, for example, the leaves, and stems of tomato plants are poisonous.

    Wild Plants

    Many of the plants that make up a wild rabbit’s diet grow in gardens as ‘weeds’ and can make an excellent free addition to your rabbit’s diet. Common ‘weeds’ that are safe for rabbits to eat include Plantain, Clover, Dandelion, Thistle, Chickweed, Nettle, Blackberry/Bramble leaves, and Shepherd’s Purse; and there are many more.

    A good reference book on plants is essential as some garden plants and weeds are toxic. You should only pick plants from areas that are free from traffic pollution and pesticides, and have not fouled by other animals.

    If your garden is a weed free zone, you can buy or collect seeds and grow your rabbit’s favourites in pots like any other plant. Just be careful to pick them before they set seed or your garden won’t stay weed free for long!

    If you don’t have any outside space, then try growing them inside on a windowsill.

    Herbs

    Herbs including: parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, and coriander make great healthy snacks or treats. You can grow most in pots to provide a cheap and regular supply.

    Dried Plants

    When fresh foods are dried, the water content decreases and the nutrients, including sugars, become much more concentrated. That means that weight for weight dried fruit and vegetables contain more calories. Dried fruit in particular you should only feed as an occasional treat if at all.

    As leaves are low in sugar to begin with you can feed them dried. Mixing dried leaves into hay is a good way to make it more tempting to fussy rabbits.

    Quantity & Variety

    Different types of plants contain different types and amounts of vitamins, minerals, so feeding a variety of different plants is the key to providing a complete range of nutrients. Where one plant is low or high in a particular nutrient, another will balance it out. Aim to feed several different plants each day and not necessarily the same types every day.

    Introducing Fresh Foods

    Rabbits do not tolerate sudden changes in their diet well. A sudden introduction of large quantities of fresh foods can unbalance their digestion and cause illness.

    Instead, introduce new foods one at a time in small portions so it is easy to isolate a particular type if it upsets your rabbit’s digestion. If your rabbit reacts badly to one type, try a different one or a smaller portion.

    You need to be particularly careful in introducing fresh foods to young rabbits, as they are more sensitive, although it is not necessary to withhold fresh foods completely, as some older books recommend. Ideally, baby rabbits will have eaten fresh foods from when they first start on solids. If you get a new baby rabbit (over 8 weeks old) that has not previously eaten fresh foods then allow it a week or so to settle in to the new environment and routine before beginning to introduce small quantities of fresh foods as you would for an adult.

    Feeding Method

    Rather than just putting fresh foods in a bowl, try to mimic some of the natural foraging a wild rabbit would do to find food. For example, you can hang up leaves, so your rabbit has to stretch up to get them, as a wild rabbit might have to stretch up to reach the tender shoots from trees and bushes. You can also hide food in, under, or on top of objects (such as flowerpots, boxes, or paper bags) so your rabbit has to sniff it out then work out how to obtain it. Even simply scattering the food around the enclosure will give your rabbit more enrichment than a tidy pile in a bowl.

    By creating opportunities for your rabbit to browse and forage you provide exercise and mental stimulation, decreasing the likely hood of destructive behaviour such as chewing.


    Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet

    Rabbits in the wild all over the world successfully consume a wide variety of plant material. Various types of dry and fresh grasses and plants with leaves comprise the largest portion of the wild rabbit diet. Rabbits will also eat bark on trees, tender twigs and sprouts, fruits, seeds and other nutritious foods in much small amounts. This is important to know when we decide what is a healthy diet for our house rabbits.

    The majority of the house rabbit diet should be composed of grass hay (any variety). Grass hay is rich in Vitamin A and D as well as calcium, protein and other nutrients. Eating hay promotes healthy teeth and gastrointestinal tract and should be available to your rabbit at all times. Varying the type of grass hay or mixing hays is a great idea (such as timothy, orchard, oat hay, brome, etc). Avoid the use of alfalfa hay as the primary source of hay due to the fact it is very high in calories and protein, far more than the average house rabbit needs. Alfalfa is not a grass, but rather a legume (in the pea and bean family).

    Fresh foods are also an important part of your rabbit’s diet and they provide additional nutrients as well as different textures and tastes, which are enriching for your friend as well. Fresh foods also provide more moisture in the diet, which is good for kidney and bladder function. The bulk of fresh foods should be made up of leafy greens (about 75% of the fresh part of the diet). Any leafy green that is safe for a human or a horse to eat is safe for a rabbit to consume.

    An approximate amount to feed would be around 1 cup of greens for 2 lbs of rabbit body weight once a day or divided into multiple feedings a day.

    Many plants contain a naturally occurring chemicals called an alkaloids, which are mild toxins that protect plant in the wild. The one most talked about with rabbits is oxalic acid and it is completely harmless to animals or humans when consumed in small amounts. The amount of oxalic acid within each plant can vary significantly due to several factors including the composition of the soil the plant grew in, the time of year and the age of the plant. Most of the fresh vegetables we feed rabbits have a low to zero level of oxalic acid, but a few, most notably parsley, mustard greens and spinach have relatively high levels. (Note that kale, which is often implicated as a high oxalate food is actually very low in oxalates). The toxicity of oxalic acid comes with feeding large quantities of foods high in this chemical and can result in tingling of the skin, the mouth and damage to the kidneys over time. These foods are nutritious and do not need to be excluded from the diet if you feed them appropriately. I recommend feeding a minimum of at least 3 types of leafy greens a day (and only one of them should be from the group listed above) Don’t feed the same greens all the time from week to week if possible, mix it up. For instance if you feed parsley this week, then leave it out of the diet for next week and use something else. Rotating the greens will also give your bunny variety in taste, texture and general nutrition!

    Some folks are concerned that you rabbits need to acquire a significant amount of vitamin A from greens. As mentioned above, hay is rich in vitamin A, so it is unnecessary to be concerned about the specific vitamin A content of the greens. Just for information though, kale is extremely rich in vitamin A as well as most of the leaf lettuces. And while we are on the subject of vitamins, rabbits make their own vitamin C in their bodies, unlike humans who have to get vitamin C through their diet. You may know that dark green leafy vegetables and red peppers have more vitamin C per weight than citrus fruits!

    Some people are concerned about feeding foods that cause gastrointestinal (GI) gas in people such as broccoli. A rabbit’s GI tract is not the same as a human’s and many of the foods that may cause gas in a human do not cause gas in a rabbit. The most common types of foods that do create havoc in the rabbit’s GI tract are those that are high in starch and sugars because they create a change in the pH of the cecum and eventually can throw the whole system off. The result can be serious GI disease. Foods that are notorious for causing rabbit GI problems when fed improperly are grains of any kind and legumes (beans, peas, etc). Even starchy root vegetables and fruits if fed to excess with their high load of sugars and starch could be a problem and should only be fed as a very small part of the diet.

    There has also been discussion about feeding vegetables that are goitrogenic in humans (causing a goiter) more notoriously those in the broccoli/cabbage family. One study done on rabbits indicated that it would take several weeks of exclusively feeding huge quantities of these foods to see any abnormalities in the blood. This is so far removed from normal feeding instructions for rabbits that there is no cause for concern in feeding these nutritious foods.

    Beyond leafy greens you can feed other vegetables such as root vegetables or “flowers” such as broccoli and cauliflower. These foods are often higher in starch or sugars and should be fed in lesser amounts than the leafy greens. Avoid foods in the onion family such as leeks, chives and onions because eating these foods could cause blood abnormalities. A good amount of “other” vegetables (non leafy greens) to feed your rabbit would be about 1 tablespoon per 2 lbs of body weight per day in one meal or divided into two or more.

    Fruits can also be fed in small amounts. In the wild these would be special high calorie foods obtained only at certain times of the year. Fruits make great training treats! You also might choose to hand-feed the fruit portion of the diet as part of developing a close bond with your bunny and also to make sure he has an appetite every day. It is a great way to see if your bunny is feeling good when you observe if he takes his fruit treat every morning! If he doesn’t want to eat his treat, it is time to call your veterinarian. Remember that dried fruits are about 3 times as concentrated as the fresh variety so feed less of those. Rabbits, like many animals naturally gravitate towards high calorie foods such as those high in sugar or starch. This is a protective device from the wild days when they could never be sure when or if they would get the next meal. When a plant would produce fruit, it is for a limited time and all the animals in the area would want to gobble these gems up quickly! This means that rabbits cannot limit themselves when given sugary or starchy foods if left to their own devices! Overfeeding fruits can result in a weight gain or GI upset so it is up to you to feed these foods in limited amounts. An approximate amount of fruit to feed your rabbit is a teaspoon per 2 lbs of body weight daily in one feeding or divided into multiple feedings.

    IMPORTANT: Before introducing any fresh foods to a rabbit it is best if he has been eating grass hay for a minimum of 2 weeks. The grass hay will help to get his GI tract motility and flora in good working order so that he will be able to accept new foods more easily. When introducing new fresh foods to any rabbit’s diet it is best to go slowly to allow the gastrointestinal tract and all its important microorganisms to adjust. Introduce one new food every three days and keep a watch on the stools. It is rare for a rabbit that has been on a hay diet first, to have any problems using this method, but if you note softer stools that persist over a couple of days, then you might want to remove that food from your bunny’s diet. Keep a list as you go of the foods that your rabbit has successfully eaten; you will then have a handy shopping list when you go to the store!

    LIST OF POSSIBLE FOODS TO FEED

    NOTE: It is always preferable to buy organic produce if at all possible. If collecting wild foods such as dandelion greens, make sure they are from a pesticide-free area. All fresh foods regardless of the source should be washed or scrubbed (in the case of hard vegetables) before serving them to your rabbit.

    LEAFY GREENS
    These foods should make up about 75% of the fresh portion of your rabbit’s diet (about 1 packed cup per 2 lbs of body weight per day).

    Leafy Greens I (need to be rotated due to oxalic acid content and only 1 out of three varieties of greens a day should be from this list)

    • Parsley
    • Spinach
    • Mustard greens
    • Beet greens
    • Swiss chard
    • Radish tops
    • Sprouts (from 1 to 6 days after sprouting, sprouts have higher levels of alkaloids)

    Dodgy the bunny, photo by Tammy Brown

    Leafy Greens II (low in oxalic acid)

    • Arugula
    • Carrot tops
    • Cucumber leaves
    • Endive
    • Ecarole
    • Frisee Lettuce
    • Kale (all types)
    • Mache
    • Red or green lettuce
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Spring greens
    • Turnip greens
    • Dandelion greens
    • Mint (any variety)
    • Basil (any variety)
    • Watercress
    • Wheatgrass
    • Chicory
    • Raspberry leaves
    • Cilantro
    • Radicchio
    • Bok Choy
    • Fennel (the leafy tops as well as the base)
    • Borage leaves
    • Dill leaves
    • Yu choy

    NON-LEAFY VEGETABLES

    These should be no more than about 15 % of the diet (About 1 tablespoon per 2 lbs of body weight per day).

    • Carrots
    • Broccoli (leaves and stems)
    • Edible flowers (roses, nasturtiums, pansies, hibiscus)
    • Celery
    • Bell peppers (any color)
    • Chinese pea pods (the flat kind without large peas)
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Cabbage (any type)
    • Broccolini
    • Summer squash
    • Zucchini squash

    FRUITS

    These should be no more than 10% of the diet (about 1 teaspoon per 2 lbs of body weight per day). NOTE: unless otherwise stated it is more nutritious to leave the skin on the fruit (particularly if organic), just wash thoroughly. IF you are in doubt about the source of the fruit and you are concerned about chemicals in the skin, then remove it.

    • Apple (any variety, without stem and seeds)
    • Cherries (any variety, without the pits)
    • Pear
    • Peach
    • Plum (without the pits)
    • Kiwi
    • Papaya
    • Mango
    • Berries (any type)
    • Berries (uncooked)
    • Pineapple (remove skin)
    • Banana (remove peel; no more than about 2 1/8 inch slices a day for a 5 lb rabbit…they LOVE this!)
    • Melons (any – can include peel and seeds)
    • Star Fruit
    • Apricot
    • Currants
    • Nectarine

    Sherman helps himself to the veggies

    By Susan A. Brown, DVM

    Please note that there is currently dispute within the scientific community regarding the levels of oxalates and goitrogens in kale. Many of our rescuers have fed kale daily, combined with other veggies, with no ill effects. Others have found that kale fed in large amounts on a daily basis may contribute to bladder sludge and other health issues. HRS encourages you to make your own decisions on how you feed kale to your rabbit based on this information, and when solid, undisputed research is found we will update this and other articles relating to feeding kale.

    21 amazing facts about pigeons

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    Table of Contents

    • 1. How old are pigeons?
    • 2. Biblical reference
    • 3. Pigeon guano – foul or fantastic?
    • 4. The pigeon as a war hero
    • 5. The pigeon as a messenger
    • 6. The religious significance of the pigeon
    • 7. Famous pigeons
    • 8. ‘Rock dove’ or ‘pigeon’?
    • 9. Why do pigeons bob their heads?
    • 10. Pigeon-gram Air Mail service
    • 11. Pigeons in Wall Street
    • 12. Mating habits of the pigeon
    • 13. Pigeons are big business
    • 14. How do pigeons navigate?
    • 15. Famous people and pigeons
    • 16. Pigeon disasters
    • 17. Pigeons as lifesavers
    • 18. Pigeons in the news
    • 19. Why do you never see a baby pigeon?
    • 20. What is the natural predator of the pigeon?
    • 21. Are pigeons intelligent?

    1. How old are pigeons?

    Pigeons have lived alongside man for thousands of years with the first images of pigeons being found by archaeologists in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and dating back to 3000BC.

    Urban flock of pigeons

    It was the Sumerians in Mesopotamia that first started to breed white doves from the wild pigeon that we see in our towns and cities today and this undoubtedly accounts, certainly in part, for the amazing variety of colours that are commonly found in the average flock of urban pigeons.

    To ancient peoples a white pigeon would have seemed miraculous and this explains why the bird was widely worshipped and considered to be sacred. Throughout human history the pigeon has adopted many roles ranging from symbols of gods and goddesses through to sacrificial victims, messengers, pets, food and even war heroes!

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    2. Biblical reference

    The first biblical reference to the pigeon (or dove) was in the Old Testament of the Bible in the first millennium AC and was the story of Noah and the dove of peace. Later, in the New Testament, the pigeon was first mentioned during the baptism of Christ where the dove descended as the Holy Spirit, an image now used extensively in Christian art. These early biblical references have paved the way for the many different ways that the urban pigeon is viewed in modern societies worldwide. Perception of the pigeon through the centuries has changed from God to devil and from hero to zero!

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    3. Pigeon guano – foul or fantastic?

    Although pigeon guano is seen as a major problem for property owners in the 21st century, it was considered to be an invaluable resource in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. Pigeon guano was a highly prized fertiliser and considered to be far more potent than farmyard manure. So prized, in fact, that armed guards were stationed at the entrances to dovecotes (pigeon houses) to stop thieves stealing it! Not only this, but in England in the 16th century pigeon guano was the only known source of saltpetre, an essential ingredient of gunpowder and considered to be a highly valued commodity as a result. In Iran, where eating pigeon flesh was forbidden, dovecotes were set up and used simply as a source of fertilizer for melon crops. In France and Italy it was used to fertilize vineyards and hemp crops.

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    4. The pigeon as a war hero

    In modern times the pigeon has been used to great effect during wartime. In both the First and Second World Wars the pigeon saved hundreds of thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines. Pigeons were carried on ships in convoys and in the event of a U-boat attack a messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship. In many cases this led to survivors being rescued and lives saved. In the First World War mobile pigeon lofts were set up behind the trenches from which pigeons often had to fly through enemy fire and poison gas to get their messages home. The birds also played a vital role in intelligence gathering and were used extensively behind enemy lines where the survival rate was only 10%. In the Second World War pigeons were used less due to advances in telecommunications, but the birds still relayed invaluable information back to the allies about the German V1 and V2 Rocket sites on the other side of the English Channel.

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    5. The pigeon as a messenger

    The earliest large-scale communication network using pigeons as messengers was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. Much later, in the 12th century AD, the city of Baghdad and all the main towns and cities in Syria and Egypt were linked by messages carried by pigeons. This was the sole source of communication. In Roman times the pigeon was used to carry results of sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, and this is why white doves are released at the start of the Olympic Games today. In England, prior to the days of telegraphs, pigeons were often taken to football matches and released to carry home the result of the game. Their use as a messenger in wartime resulted in many pigeons being awarded honours by both the British and French Governments. Incredibly, the last ‘pigeon post’ service was abandoned in India in 2004 with the birds being retired to live out the rest of their days in peace.

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    6. The religious significance of the pigeon

    Guru Gobind Singh

    Many religious groups, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, feed pigeons for religious reasons. Many older Sikhs feed pigeons ceremoniously to honour the high priest and warrior Guru Gobind Singh who was a known friend of the pigeon (or rock dove). Some Sikhs feed pigeons because they believe that when they are reincarnated they will never go hungry if they have fed pigeons in their previous life.

    Other religious groups in India believe that when a person dies his or her soul assumes the form of a bird (normally a pigeon) and therefore by feeding pigeons and other birds they are caring for the souls of their departed ancestors.

    Monk Feeding Pigeons

    The pigeon is revered in India with huge flocks numbering many thousands of birds being fed daily at Hindu temples in town and city centres throughout the country.

    In both eastern and western societies many of the most entrenched pigeon-related problems in urban areas are considered to be caused, certainly in part, by religious feeding of pigeons.

    In the Christian religion the pigeon is both a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit.

    Sources:

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    7. Famous pigeons

    Cher Ami –
    World War I Hero

    During the First World War a pigeon named Cher Ami (dear friend) saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and the leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25-minute flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ medal for heroic service.

    President Wilson –
    World War I Hero

    GI Joe –
    World War II hero

    Another heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers in World War 2 after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed by allied planes. Communication equipment was down and the only means of stopping the raid was to attach a hastily written message to G.I. Joe and send him to the allied HQ. G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway. Disaster was averted with 5 minutes to spare. G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.

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    8. ‘Rock dove’ or ‘pigeon’?

    The feral pigeon that we see in our towns and cities today is descended from the rock dove (Columba livia), a cliff-dwelling bird historically found in coastal regions. The word ‘pigeon’ is actually derived from the Latin word ‘pipio’, which means ‘young bird’. The word then passed into Old French as ‘pijon’ and thus the English name ‘pigeon’ was derived, which is now used the world over as a common name for the rock dove. Other common names include ‘domestic pigeon’ and the ‘feral pigeon’.

    In 2004 British and American ornithologists officially re-named the bird the ‘rock pigeon’.

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    9. Why do pigeons bob their heads?

    Pigeons feeding

    The pigeon has side-mounted eyes, unlike humans and owls which have forward facing eyes. As pigeons have monocular vision rather than binocular vision they bob their heads for depth of perception. The pigeon’s eyes function much better with stationary images and therefore as the pigeon takes a step forward the head is temporarily left behind. The next step jerks the head forward again and so on. This allows the bird to correctly orient itself.

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    10. Pigeon-gram Air Mail service

    Illustration 1: Map of Pigeon Airmail Route

    The first organised pigeon airmail service was started in 1896 between New Zealand and the Great Barrier Island. The sinking of the SS Wairarapa off the Great Barrier Island, with the loss of 134 lives, was a catalyst for the service. News of the disaster did not reach New Zealand for 3-days and as a direct result a pigeon-gram service was set up between the two islands.

    Pigeon-Gram Stamp

    The first message was carried in January 1896 and took less than 1.75 hours to reach Auckland. Up to 5 messages were carried by each pigeon with the record time for the journey being held by a pigeon called ‘Velocity’ taking only 50 minutes and averaging 125 kmph (only 40% slower than a modern aircraft!).

    Special pigeon-gram stamps were issued costing 2/- (10 pence) each with the fee being paid in cash before the pigeon was released.

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    11. Pigeons in Wall Street

    Medals Commemorating the Arrival of the Pigeon Post in Paris 1870

    One of the richest and most famous families in the world amassed its wealth, certainly in part, as a result of exploiting the pigeon. In the early 1800s the Rothschild family set up a network of pigeon lofts throughout Europe and used homing pigeons to carry information between its financial houses. This method proved to be quicker and more efficient than any other means of communication available at the time. The speed of the service and the ability to send and receive information ahead of the competition helped the Rothschild family amass a fortune, which still exists today.

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    12. Mating habits of the pigeon

    Pigeon Squab and
    Egg in Nest

    The pigeon mates for life and can breed up to 8 times a year in optimum conditions, bringing two young into the world each time. The frequency of breeding is dictated by the abundance of food. Pigeon eggs take 18/19 days to hatch with both parents incubating the eggs. Young dependant pigeons are commonly known as ‘squabs’.

    Pigeon Nest
    with 2 Eggs

    Both parents feed the young with a special ‘pigeon milk’ that is regurgitated and fed to the squabs. Each squab can double its birth weight in one day but it takes 3 days before the heart starts beating and 4 days for the eyes to open.

    Pigeon Squab –
    3 Days Old

    When squabs are hungry they ‘squeak’ whilst flapping their wings and as a result they are also commonly known as ‘squeakers’.

    Pigeon Squabs –
    10 Days Old

    At approximately 2 months of age the young are ready to fledge and leave the nest. This longer-than-average time spent in the nest ensures that the life expectancy of a juvenile pigeon is far greater than that of other fledglings.

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    13. Pigeons are big business

    Champion Racing
    Pigeon

    We normally think of the pigeon as being an unwelcome guest in our towns and cities, but most of us are unaware that racing pigeons can be worth huge sums of money. One racing pigeon recently sold for a staggering $132,517.00! The 3-year old bird was a champion racer, beating 21,000 other pigeons in one long distance race. For this reason he was bought by a British company that breeds racing pigeons for ‘stud’. One very happy pigeon! The previous record price for a racing pigeon was $73, 800.00.

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    14. How do pigeons navigate?

    There are many theories about how pigeons manage to return ‘home’ when released 100s of miles from their loft. A champion racing pigeon can be released 400-600 miles away from its home and still return within the day. This amazing feat does not just apply to ‘racing’ or ‘homing’ pigeons; all pigeons have the ability to return to their roost. A 10-year study carried out by Oxford University concluded that pigeons use roads and motorways to navigate, in some cases even changing direction at motorway junctions. Other theories include navigation by use of the earth’s magnetic field, visual clues such as landmarks, the sun and even infrasounds (low frequency seismic waves). Whatever the truth, this unique ability makes the pigeon a very special bird.

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    15. Famous people and pigeons

    Noah with the
    Dove of Peace

    The humble pigeon has attracted some very famous fans over the last few thousand years ranging from royalty to rock and roll singers and actors through to fashion designers. One of the most famous royals is Queen Elizabeth of England who has lofts and pigeon keepers at her estate in Sandringham, Norfolk.

    Elvis Presley

    Elvis Presley had a soft spot for pigeons and Mike Tyson is also an enthusiastic pigeon keeper.

    Mike Tyson

    Even Maurizzo Gucci, the internationally renowned fashion designer, is a keen pigeon fancier spending a reputed $10,000 on one American pigeon. One famous couple, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, are reputedly both keen pigeon fanciers, but after being swamped by autograph hunters at a pigeon show they are apparently less comfortable to show their affection for the birds publicly. Last but not least, and probably the most famous of all … Noah!

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    16. Pigeon disasters

    Passenger Pigeon

    Probably the greatest disaster to befall the species was the extermination of the passenger pigeon in North America in the early part of the 20th century. It is estimated that there were 3-5 billion passenger pigeons in North America at the time. Flocks of 100,000s of the birds would blacken the skies as they flew over, but early settlers managed to wipe out every last bird by 1914 through over-hunting.

    Passenger Pigeon

    Great Pigeon Race 1997

    A more recent and quite bizarre disaster befell tens of thousands of racing pigeons released from Nantes in France as part of a race held to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association in England. 60,000 pigeons were released but only a few birds ever arrived back at their lofts throughout southern England.

    One theory suggests that the sonic boom created by Concorde as it flew over the English Channel, at the precise time the pigeons would have been at the same point, completely disorientated the birds, throwing out their inbuilt navigation system.

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    17. Pigeons as lifesavers

    Although the pigeon is one of the most intelligent of all the bird species, man has found limited uses for the birds other than for the purposes of sport, food and as a message carrier. A team of navy researchers, however, has found that pigeons can be trained to save human lives at sea with high success rates. Project Sea Hunt has trained a number of pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets when floating in the water.

    Lifesaving Crew

    The pigeons were not only found to be more reliable than humans, but they were also many times quicker when it came to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see colour in the same way that humans do but they can also see ultra-violet, a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see, and this is one of the reasons they are so well adapted to lifesaving.

    Project PigeonWatch from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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    18. Pigeons in the news

    Reuters, News Agency

    One of the world’s most famous news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using trained homing pigeons. The service was started in 1850 with 45 pigeons carrying the latest news and stock prices from Aachen in Germany to Brussels in Belgium. Although a telegraph service between the two countries existed, numerous gaps in the transmission lines made communication difficult and slow. The birds travelled the 76 miles in a record-breaking two hours, beating the railway by four hours.

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    19. Why do you never see a baby pigeon?

    Juvenile Pigeons

    Most small birds rear and fledge their young in 2/3 weeks with young birds sometimes leaving the nest after only 10 days of life, but pigeons are different; their young remain in the nest for up to 2 months before fledging.

    Juvenile Pigeon
    & Mother

    This gives the young pigeon a distinct advantage over many other species of bird due to the fact that it leaves the nest as a relatively mature juvenile, allowing the bird to cope better in the first few days of its life, a dangerous time for all youngsters.

    Juvenile Pigeons
    in Nest

    Juveniles can be told apart from adults but it takes an experienced eye. A juvenile’s beak often appears to be far too long for the size of its body and the cere (the fleshy area at the top of the beak) is white in adults and greyish pink in juveniles.

    Project PigeonWatch from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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    20. What is the natural predator of the pigeon?

    Peregrine Falcon

    Although the natural enemy of the feral pigeon is now man, with millions of pigeons being killed in control operations the world over, it is the peregrine falcon that is the pigeons’ real natural predator. Although a shy and retiring bird that has its natural habitat along rocky coastlines, the peregrine is now being introduced into towns and cities as a ‘natural’ pigeon control. The peregrine is the fastest bird on the planet when in a dive and can achieve speeds in excess of 200 mph, over 130 mph faster than a pigeon.

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    21. Are pigeons intelligent?

    Pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet and able to undertake tasks previously thought to be the sole preserve of humans and primates. The pigeon has also been found to pass the ‘mirror test’ (being able to recognise its reflection in a mirror) and is one of only 6 species, and the only non-mammal, that has this ability. The pigeon can also recognise all 26 letters of the English language as well as being able to conceptualise. In scientific tests pigeons have been found to be able to differentiate between photographs and even differentiate between two different human beings in a photograph when rewarded with food for doing so.

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    NOOKS AND CRANNIES
    Why do you never see baby pigeons?

    Amy Boughton, London, UK

    • Because you haven’t looked in the right place. They are in the nest making feathers which will give them the appearance of an adult pigeon. Young pigeons, or squabs, make a very tasty food which was much more popular in past centuries when dovecotes were constructed to encourage pigeons to nest and provide meat. Richard Avery, Seville, Spain
    • This is one of those questions that gets repeated all the time without anyone ever actually thinking about it very hard. Pigeons don’t fledge (leave the nest) until they are almost adult-sized and those that don’t know what to look for can’t tell a baby pigeon from an adult one. In the case of Woodpigeons (the fat ones that you see on your lawn), the young ones are those without a white flash on the neck. I saw one last night, actually, whilst having dinner in my garden. You’ll probably see them everywhere now you know what they look like. Max Wurr, Stanmore, United Kingdom
    • I once saw one that fell out of its nest during heavy winds and an uglier monstrosity you will never see. Chris Steele, Linton, England
    • You never see baby pigeons because the little buggers all have asbos and aren’t allowed out of their nests untill they reach maturity. Barbra Windsor Jnr, Aberyswyth
    • Pigeons don’t have babies. New pigeons grow inside of old pigeons until they explodes out of them. This sound logic explains why you never see pigeon nests, eggs, or babies. Greg Ohannessian, London
    • It’s true that they all have ASBO’s – also some very noisy pigeons on the roof opposite my flat window gave birth 2 weeks ago, and they have gone from being small yellow squeaking beggars to full pigeon colored in that short time. If not slightly smaller, give it another 2 weeks at that pace, they will be out pecking at your bins and crapping on your head. Neil O’Connell, Brighton, England
    • Just 5 minutes ago, I went to see a baby wood pigeon which is tucked away in a conifer not far from my back door. I’ve watched both mum and dad going in and out for the last month or so. Amazing! When I go and look, it doesn’t seem to bother her but when on its own the little one raises itself up and sticks its chest out! The downside is I’ve got bird poo all over my patio. Oh well, can’t have everything! 🙁 Helen Wilshaw, Shropshire, UK
    • You never see baby pigeons because they are machines in a government conspiracy to distract us from the fact that our country is full of foreigners Duncan Flight, West Hoathly, UK
    • Because they are Ninja Assassins until they get their own brood. They are trained by their parents to hunt down enemies of the Government. The adults lose their powers at a certain age, and are subsequently killed. Feral city pigeons survive by disease generated in private labs. Lium Incendia, Bournemouth, England
    • You never see baby pigeons because they are machines in a government conspiracy to distract us from the fact that our country is full of racists. Kensaye Russell, London, UK
    • It’s true, you never see them because you aren’t looking. We have been fortunate to have a pigeon make a nest under a step on our fire escape. Two eggs were laid, and two lovely fluffy little chicks were born, one yesterday and one today. Ray, London UK
    • You never see baby pigeons as pigeons are a myth and they are in fact all just ugly ducklings calum lewis, york yorkshire
    • I have seen the eleusive baby pigeon – and I have photographic evidence – www.squabspot.blogspot.com Michael Bevans, New York City USA
    • I have a seen a pigeon and her squabs in my kitchen window. They have been there for a week now and have hatched from the eggs. Growing day by day Abhay Rathod, Pune, India
    • Babies of Pigeons exist just like any other birds. Outside my kitchen window and my bedroom window, pigeon couples have tried several times to hatch their eggs but each time they lay em, crows makes them their feast. Bu one of them has been lucky and I’ve seen it grow right from an egg to almost adulthood in a span of slightly more than a month. If you want to see baby pigeons, put out seeds and water for the adults and babies will follow. Dhruv Sagar, Mumbai India
    • I have seen a baby pigeon walking about with what appeared to be the parent birds. I watched it for about 5 mins then I had to go. Anne Coyle, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
    • The reason why you never see baby pigeons is because they have all been in a secret recording studio with the Chuckle Brothers, making a rap song as a crew… to be released soon and entitled “to me, to you”. Jack Wilkens, London, England
    • The reason baby pigeons are rarely seen is simple – they don’t naturally breed in the UK. The grand canyon in the US is the only place where enough pigeons could breed to supply the world. In any case, what else would the Grand Canyon be used for! Once mature, these pigeons then hitch rides on boats or can be seen clinging to the underside of airplanes crossing the Atlantic in order to return to Europe. Recently however, the presence of pigeons in many major European cities have actually been shown to have a positive effect on local economies by the Institute for Fiscal Studies through the eco-tourism they attract. Thus governments throughout the EU have built chasms beneath the many of the continent’s famous plazas. These so called “faux-grand-canyons” ensure that pigeon populations in places such as Trafalgar square are high all year round. Adam Turner, Stourbridge UK
    • Baby pigeons are assigned from birth To clean the back of Sasquatch from cooties. So when you find Bigfoot you’ll find baby pigeons. Gary, Shandon Ohio US of A
    • the baby pigeon development cycle. Week 1 a bib, week 2 a squib, week 3 a squab, week 4 a mob Lucas Martin 8, London UK
    • We never see baby pigeons because the parents nest in old buildings and in rafters of buildings and sometimes in chimneys. bird man, new castle Barbados
    • I’ve been watching pair of pigeons protect and hatched two eggs over the past two weeks, I have pictures to prove plus theyre sitting and waiting on the second egg to hatch it’s so amazing. nikki, tooting bec england
    • You never see baby pigeons because I eat them all. Claire, London UK
    • You just don’t look hard enough. I’m currently raising a wood pigeon who fell from a tree and was attacked by crows (he’s injured). Although they don’t leave their nests until they’re fledglings, when they are fledglings they already look like adults, just a little fuzzier, but you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know what to look for. Hope, Macclesfield, England

    • Baby pigeons have great taste in music, which would explain why they’ve been a mystery for the past few decades, the closer you get to Miley Cyrus, the farther away the baby pigeons are. Jackie Moon, Flint Let’s Get Tropical
    • Two years back a rock piegon couple made a nest of few twigs at my windowsill. After 15 to 20 days the chics were seen. Interestingly it was the papa piegon who took the responsibility to look after the eggs as well as chics. Both chicks continued to be in the nest till they grew up to large size. Then I noticed a very strange phenomenon. Pigeons are known to be very peaceful. However another pigeon couple wanted to build their nest at the same place. What I saw shocked me as the two pigeon couples fought with claws, beaks and wings with unusual ferocity. Once I saw the intruding couple attacking the chicks to the extent of wounding them and drawing blood in absence of their parents. So pigeon chicks are easy game not only for the crows but also other pigeons. Sharad Gaonkar, Mumbai, India

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    Pigeons’ ‘milk’ also contains antioxidants and immune-enhancing proteins.
    Image: rainmax/iStockphoto

    Deakin University scientists have revealed some of the secrets behind the pigeon’s rare ability to produce ‘milk’ to feed its young.
    Deakin PhD student Meagan Gillespie and research fellow Dr Tamsyn Crowley, along with colleagues from the University’s Institute for Technology Research and Innovation and CSIRO Livestock Industries, have studied the genes behind pigeon ‘milk’ production. They found that, like mammalian milk, it contains antioxidants and immune-enhancing proteins important for the growth and development of the young.
    “Producing milk to feed babies is normally the domain of mammals, including humans. However, the pigeon is one of only three bird species (the others being flamingos and male emperor penguins) to produce a milk-like substance to feed their young,” Dr Crowley explained.
    “We looked at the genes involved in the production of pigeon ‘milk’ and found that it contains antioxidants and immune-enhancing factors. This suggests that, like mammalian milk, it plays a key role in enhancing the immune system of the developing baby.”
    Both female and male pigeons produce a nutrient rich substance in their crop to feed their young (squabs). This substance has been likened to lactation in mammals and is referred to as pigeon ‘milk’. This ‘milk’ is essential for the growth and development of the pigeon squab, and without it they fail to thrive.
    “Bird crops are normally used to store food. However, in the pigeon the crop changes prior to ‘lactation’ in response to hormones and returns to its ‘non-lactating’ state at the end of the lactation period, a bit like the mammary gland,” Ms Gillespie explained.
    “During ‘lactation’, a curd-like substance is created from fat-filled cells that line the crop and regurgitated to feed the squab. This ‘milk’ contains protein, fats, minerals and antibodies to provide nutrition to the young.”
    While studies have investigated the nutritional value of pigeon ‘milk’, very little is known about what it is or how it is produced.
    “This study has provided an insight into the process of pigeon ‘milk’ production by studying the genes expressed in the ‘lactating’ crop,” Ms Gillespie said.
    “Birds are different to other animals in that they don’t have sweat glands, but they do have the ability to accumulate fat in their outer skin cells (keratinocytes) which act like sweat glands. We found that the evolution of pigeon ‘milk’ appears to have developed from the ability of these outer skin cells to accumulate fat.
    “The way pigeon ‘milk’ is produced is an interesting example of the evolution of a system with similarities to mammalian lactation, with pigeon ‘milk’ fulfilling a similar function to mammalian milk but produced in a different way.”
    The results of the study will be published this week in BioMed Central’s journal BMC Genomics.
    About pigeon ‘milk’
    The crop in most species of birds is normally used as a food storage area. It is located between the oesophagus and the top of a bird’s stomach where food is moistened before further breakdown and digestion through the gastrointestinal tract.
    The pigeon is one of only three bird species (the others being flamingos and male emperor penguins) known to produce ‘milk’ to feed their young.
    In pigeons the milk starts to be produced in the crop of the parent birds two days before eggs hatch.
    During ‘lactation’, a curd-like substance is created from fat-filled cells that line the crop and regurgitated to feed the squab. This ‘milk’ is made up of protein (around 60 per cent), fat (up to 36 per cent), a small amount of carbohydrate (up to three per cent), a range of minerals and antibodies.
    Squabs are fed the ‘milk’ until they are around 10 days old. Once the young are weaned the ‘milk’ stops being produced.
    The unique qualities of pigeon milk have been shown in previous studies.
    One study tried replicating pigeon ‘milk’ however, for the squabs fed the artificial substance, their growth was either very poor or they died. This suggests that there is a unique quality to the pigeon milk that is necessary for squab growth and development.
    In another study, when pigeon ‘milk’ was fed to chickens their growth rate improved by 38 per cent. Since this study, it has been shown that pigeon ‘milk’ contains certain antibodies, which provides further evidence that it is not just a nutrient-based substance.

    Editor’s Note: Original news release can be found here.

    Wood Pigeon

    Voice

    A Wood Pigeon’s song has five notes, compared to the three notes of the Collared Dove, and sounds like “ru-hoo ru ru-hoo”. This is sometimes remembered as: “Take toooo coooos, Taffy”.

    Song
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    © Jean Roché, www.sittelle.com

    Feeding

    Wood Pigeons feed on seeds, grain and crops, but will feed on almost anything that is placed on a bird table.

    They also drink a lot, mainly because they do not get sufficient moisture from their food, unlike birds that eat earthworms, etc. An interesting feature about how they drink is that they use their beak like a straw, whereas other birds scoop the water up and throw their heads back to let it flow down their throats.

    Nesting

    The nest is a platform made from twigs and built by both sexes in a tree or on a building.

    At breeding time male Wood Pigeons can be seen displaying: flies upwards, claps its wings, and then glides downwards with its tail spread.

    The white elliptical eggs are smooth and glossy, and about 41 mm by 30 mm in size. Both parents share the duty of incubating the eggs and feeding the nestlings.

    Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
    April 3 2 17 29-35

    Movements

    The Wood Pigeon is resident and mostly sedentary though in the autumn and winter they fly twice-daily between roosts and feeding areas.

    Scandinavian Wood Pigeons are migratory and many pass through Britain on their autumnal migration to France and Spain, some inevitably stay for the winter in Britain.

    Conservation

    Since the 1970s the population has increased rapidly, which may be a result of the expansion of intensive arable farming and in particular oilseed rape.

    What do pigeons eat – FIND THE BEST FOOD FOR PIGEONS – Birdfeedersspot

    Pigeons are natural seed eaters and only eat insects in small numbers. Normal pigeon diet is made of corn, wheat, cereals and other seed. Pigeons will add fruit and green like lettuce, spinach, sprouted seeds, grapes and apple in their diet.

    Pigeon is a common bird around the world, along with a dove. These two birds are related to each other and live side by side. Pigeon is bigger from the two and the dove grows a little smaller in size and color. A young baby pigeon or dove are called squab. One interesting fact is that a pigeon have only forty taste buds, compared to a human that has thousands. The food may not taste so good with small number of taste buds, but pigeons keep eating it up. Pigeons are well adapted to human environment and will live on buildings and cavities in houses. They will take advantage of food leftovers by humans also. They have stout bodies and necks that are kind of short. On top of that they have a slender bill.

    A pigeon’s diet in the wild and for pigeon keepers.

    A pigeon is kind of a scavenger bird and will go around looking for anything he can find to eat. But it will have its favorite food, as it is a bird after all. If you like to feed pigeons you can give them leftovers, as they will love you for that and come back for more. But this is not a normal diet of pigeons. If you keep pigeons you want to feed them properly so you must provide a better diet.

    The pigeon is a granivorous bird. Keeping that in mind, they like to eat seeds and cereal grains, Cracked Corn, sunflower, wheat, barley, millet, Pigeon & Dove Seeds and peas. They will eat all of those seeds at any time of year, but some are more preferable in different times of year. In winter more oil based seed is desired to help them through the cold. When the molting season starts pigeons will change the diet. The same thing will happen in time of reproduction and raising young. It is best to feed pigeons with a mix of all seed so he will get all that he needs. Pigeon mom and dad that have a baby will need more diversified food to feed the young. The baby needs to grow and needs lots of nutrition.

    CRACKED CORN

    Healthy pigeon needs a balanced Pigeon & Dove Seeds diet that contains 50% grain crops and 10% oil seed (sunflower). Normal adult size pigeon can eat about 30 grams of food each day to keep him in good condition. Young baby pigeons eat different food and you can check what to feed a baby pigeon with. If you keep racing pigeons same rules are applied but you might adapt the needs for a particular pigeon. If you want to feed pigeons in the wild, what do pigeons eat there? You don’t have to worry too much, as pigeons will find food in other places and come to your feeder just to supplement its diet.

    If you have found a baby pigeon read this. It’s a great article about how to raise baby pigeons and you must read it if you have a baby pigeon. It’s a great source of information on what do baby pigeons eat.

    Best Pigeon Food

    – Cereals are good main diet of a normal pigeon. This food is made of 70% carbohydrates, about 10% of protein and 5-7% fat and minerals. These elements are important because they are rich in vitamins B and E, but lack vitamin A. Corn on the other hand does contain vitamin A.

    – Wheat is rich in carbohydrates and must be given in smaller amounts. Too much and your pigeon will become “fat”. So give it in a smaller doses.

    – Corn is very good for pigeons and must be included in the diet if you keep pigeons. Cracked Corn has high energy value, lots of proteins and it is good for pigeon digestibility. But if given in too much amounts it can also lead to weight gain as it is rich in calories.

    – Oat is not favorite by pigeons but is good for the feathers. It will help them in cold weather and build the muscles of these birds. It gives a good boost to the pigeon blood and nervous system. Do not give it to much if pigeons are laying eggs, as it is not so good for egg shell. Pigeons don’t like oats so much, but it is good for them.

    – Mix of Pigeon & Dove Seeds is great for a balanced pigeon diet.

    – Barley is good for pigeons in cold weather in the months of January and February. The young pigeons are not able to eat this food and it’s not good for their digestive track so give it only to adults. On the other hand adults will benefit from it, as it is producing a calming effect on the bird stomach and will reduce diarrhea. So place it in the pigeon diet as it will give lots of benefits.

    – Rye has a lower nutritional value for the pigeons than wheat or corn and it is not really so much beneficial for pigeons but can be given as their food.

    – Pulse – Pulse is good as it is very rich in protein (22-40%) but very low in fat (1-5%).They are particularly good for birds because of rich amount of phosphorus and calcium salts. They contain beneficial quantities of B vitamins, especially vitamin B1, but less carotene.

    – Peas contain about 22-26% protein, 50-52% no-nitrate substances, 0.1 to 2% fat and 4-5% cellulose. It is a good protein source. Birds will digest it very easily. It can be mixed in pigeon’s food in a ratio of 15-20%. Being rich in minerals it will help pigeons grow, along with the corn. It has good impact on pigeon’s organism development, increases resistance to sickness and reduces the fatigue.

    – Vetch is excellent nutrition for the pigeon nervous system. It is good to introduce it in smaller quantities in the pigeon diet (about 15%). If given in larger amounts it can give bowel problems to the birds. That’s why it is not recommended for young pigeons and must be given just to adult birds. It should be introduced slowly.

    Too often bird owners don’t know how to provide a proper diet to birds, including pigeons or doves. If this is the case birds can have health problems. If you are feeding pigeons in the wild then you don’t have to worry as pigeon will find other food sources in nature to supplement what it is not getting from you. But if you keep pet pigeons than it is important to educate yourself on what do pigeons eat. It is just common sense. The best thing is to buy ready pigeon and dove seed mix so you know the bird is getting what it needs for a healthy and long life.

    Pigeon & Doves seed mix is a great all-in-one pigeon food! You can check great Pigeon & Dove Staple VME Seeds here that is full of all the right nutrition and all-in-one pigeon food.

    What do pigeons eat other than seeds? Insects, fruit?

    Pigeons and doves will not eat insects in large quantities so don’t include them in the pigeon diet. If you are raising pigeons or just feeding them on the feeder, stick to the seed grain, fruit and other greens. It is good to include fruit and some greens to the pigeon. These you can give from time to time, like once or twice a week. The pigeons and doves are best fed on a platform feeder, where these birds can land easily due to the bigger surfaces for these birds. Pigeons find normal bird feeders too small to land on and will not feed from them.

    Can I give bread to the birds?

    When feeding wild backyard bird one question often comes in mind: Can we feed bread to birds and pigeons? Looking at all the data collected over the years we can say it work just the same as for humans. Having some bread from time to time will not hurt you and can provide a good source of carbohydrates to your diet. The problem comes when we start “living” on bread daily and not diversifying our diet. The same goes for birds. You can give them bread as occasional snack and keep it at that. If you feed bread to your birds, be sure that it is fresh and not moldy as this can hurt the birds. Put out just the right amount so that birds will eat it in a few hours or it will go bad and mold can catch on it. Just like for humans breed – it is not the best pigeon diet.

    Birds, just as humans, need a balanced diet so keep most of your backyard food on bird seed. Give bread under 10% and your birds will be fine. Most wild birds like pigeons and ducks have good memory and if they find a place where there is food, they will come back every day. The problem is when this food source is a steady diet of bread and not normal bird seed. So to keep it healthy for your pigeons and other wild birds, offer bread on occasional basis. Never mix the bread with water, as this can make bread moldy fast and can hurt birds if the weather conditions are right.

    If you have bread leftovers from lunch you can even offer them to pigeons every day as long as you also offer other food pigeons like. Corn, wheat, green peas and other vegetables are great for pigeons. In most pet stores you can get pigeon and dove mix that is well balanced and will provide the best nutritional value for wild pigeons. What you feed pigeon in the long run, must be a balanced and healthy.

    Pigeons are intelligent birds and will know their human feeder. If they see you feeding them all the time they will follow your voice and face and come every day. That’s why you can see pigeons in parks landing on some people hands. These pigeons have learned how to recognize the person feeding them and are less likely to be afraid of them. Some are even so bold to land on their feeder head or shoulders.

    How much water ?

    Pigeons will get the water from natural sources if in wild. If you keep pigeons give them always fresh water at all times, never old and stale, remember that water must always be there so birds can drink.

    VITAMINS and PIGEON

    Pigeon diet must be balanced so some Vitamins and amino acids for Pigeons are required in small quantities. Feeding nutritional vitamins to pigeon is important for maintaining healthy metabolic process. These vitamins, which are essential for pigeons, are of 6 types: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. There are sub-categories within these 6 vitamins. Each of these nutritional vitamins has its own group for the functioning of pigeon so when pigeon eats deficient diet, it shows typical deficiency signs and symptoms for these vitamins. The impact on metabolic process is proportional to the amount of deficiency to ensure that when deficiency is mild, these signs and symptoms are non-specific and vague, including poor health and functioning.

    Nutritional vitamins are usually not produced by pigeon’s internal system in adequate amount to meet their needs and thus it has to be consumed from external nutritional sources. That is why it’s important to know exactly what do pigeon eat and supplement their diet.

    A Vitamin:

    This vitamin is extremely important for healthy mucus membranes and skin, like for lining within mouth, cloaca and sinus, etc.

    B complex Vitamin:

    This vitamin is the collection of 12 or more compounds, such as riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), choline (B4), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B5) etc. These vitamins and minerals are responsible for many vital functions of pigeon. Because it is water-soluble, deficiency rapidly grows when the birds are not consuming these vitamins.

    Ascorbic Acid:

    It is a metabolic controller. Generally in seed consuming birds, such as pigeons, C vitamin is synthesized within their liver and there is no significant benefit unless pigeon is debilitated and is not capable of making sufficient ascorbic acid. This happens specifically if the liver is not working or is damaged.

    D Vitamin:

    This vitamin is important for absorbing calcium mineral into the body of a pigeon. Birds will make their vitamin D when they are exposed to the sunlight.

    E Vitamin as Antioxidant:

    This vitamin controls most of the regular metabolic functions within the cell.

    K Vitamin:

    This vitamin is important for blood coagulation. All these nutritional vitamins can be found in green vegetables and can also be produced by regular bacteria within pigeon’s digestive tract. It is rare to have K vitamin deficiency unless antibiotics are overused which kills each of these bacteria within their bowel. Also it happens when birds are prevented from consuming their specific probiotics or droppings.

    If you keep pet pigeons Vitamins and amino acids supplements are a good way to keep your pigeon in good health.

    A pigeon’s nest

    Pigeons and doves will make nests made from ticks and small pieces of debris. The pigeons will make nests in all kind of places and it is best to leave the nest at peace. Pairs are monogamous, often breeding in consecutive seasons for as long as both birds of a pair live. The nest of these birds can be built along building ledges, rafters, beams and under human bridges or inside barns. Most will raise several broods in one season. It can be from 3 to 4 in one year. The female is usually sitting in the nest for a few days. Then the first egg will be laid. Usually pigeons will laid 1-2 eggs.

    The couple will alternate in the incubation period as they go to feed. After about 18 days the baby pigeons will be born. After 29 days of hatching, birds will be ready to leave the nest.

    Pigeons come in many different colors and types. More than 20 can be found in the wild and in captivity. The pigeon’s neck feathers are the most common iridescent and is called a “hackle”. If you keep males and females they will often look alike, but males have a little more iridescent neck feathers.

    The homing pigeon

    This is a bird that is like a pet and has been trained to leave home for a trip, but always “comes home to roost”. Many people love to keep homing pigeons as a hobby and breed them. However, you must have good conditions to keep these birds as their “pigeon bird house” will have to be cleaned. What do pigeons eat if it’s a homing pigeon? The same diet must be given to him like a normal pigeon.

    If you decide to keep homing pigeons make sure you educate yourself about how to keep pigeons as pets. Pigeons make great pets but need a lot of care and love from the owner. Good housing is required and also medical aid to the birds. I hope you liked this ‘What do pigeons eat’ article.

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    A Bone To Pick: Why Do Pigeons Eat Fried Chicken on the Street?

    Photo by J Mark Dodds

    Poor urban pigeons, they’re raised in the slipstream between double decker buses tumbling along ancient, polluted roads, feeding on grains, bread and whatever else is flung their way. They’re too inedible to fall under the remit of the Game Farmers Association (GFA), and they’re too abundant in cities to be important to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) meaning they receive no ecological protection. Besides, most of us see them as a blight of flying rats. So they are left to fend for themselves, living in a kind of Dickensian dystopia, thriving on the rubbish the rest of us throw away.

    This hunt for survival has taken an unseemly turn. If you live in a city, you will probably have seen it a hundred times, maybe without even thinking about it: pigeons eating chicken bones. They feast on discarded boxes of chicken and chips like they were a Serengeti watering hole, prodding, pecking and poking at the innards of its carcass. They gorge on its flesh near-cannibalistically, before flinging its bones like majorettes twirling batons.

    I know we all hate pigeons, but that can’t be good for them, can it? Aren’t they supposed to be herbivores? A spokesperson for the GFA, which focuses on breeding wood pigeons to make them hunt-ready tells VICE: “I certainly haven’t heard of pigeons eating chicken bones. Pigeons, like doves and all of those sorts of birds, are not meat eaters. But urban pigeons are very different to the ones we get in the countryside.”

    The feral pigeon, these mongrel bastard birds, have fallen through the cracks. So I turned to the British Trust for Ornithology’s spokesperson and ornithologist himself, Paul Sandcliffe, in the hopes he might know a bit more about why a herbivore bird would want to feast on chicken bones.

    VICE: Hi Paul. Why do you think pigeons might eat bits of chicken bones? Are they just feral compared to their rural cousins?
    Paul: When we get back to basics, urban pigeons are not that different to rural pigeons, they will feed in large flocks, and once one pigeon is on the ground, it will attract other pigeons. The major difference between these birds, though, is their diet. Rural pigeons are looking for large seeds or cereal grains like rapeseed which are high in energy and can actually fill them. Whereas urban pigeons are just looking for any food that’s available and will test out anything.

    So when they’re pecking the chicken they’re just trying it out?
    Yes. Pigeons aren’t carnivorous but they’ve come across this potential food, they’ve checked it out, and if it’s edible, they’ll eat it.

    Is it possible that the way fried or marinaded chicken is cooked; in flour and batter and sauces makes it less like chicken and more appealing to the pigeon?
    I think the big thing making this chicken appealing to the pigeon is that it’s cooked. Lots of birds aren’t specifically carnivorous but if they come across a dead bird they’ll have a peck at it and take some of the meat. I’ve seen it in footage of coal tits in Northern Scotland, pecking at a deer carcass. They can do it because, ostensibly they’re insectivorous , so they do have this element of a carnivorous diet. But pigeons are granivorous so their beak is designed for grains. If they come across a corpse they just can’t deal with it; the skin’s too tough to peck through. But if the corpse has been cooked then the texture is soft. So they can peck at it and bits come away. They’re probably not even thinking of it as meat if they’re thinking at all. It’s just food.

    Let’s say a pigeon managed to eat a chicken nugget’s worth of chicken, though. Is that any good for its digestion?
    I’m not particularly sure there would be a negative impact.
    Really? But it sounds so gross.
    Birds, by their very physiology, won’t eat more than they should eat. Pigeons can’t afford to be fat because it affects their weight and then they can’t fly. And when they can’t fly it makes them vulnerable to predation.

    Do pigeons actually go through that thought process? Or do they simply stop when they’re full?
    It’s just nature for them to stop when they’re full. You could give a blackbird a bucket of worms and it will only eat the amount it needs to survive in that moment and still make a quick escape if needs be. Same goes for a pigeon.

    Feeding time. Photo by Martin Burrow

    That’s smart. A farmer once told me that chickens will eat concrete to get the right nutrients to make its eggs. Is there any chance pigeons are eating chicken bones to get the right nutrients to make their own eggs?
    Female pigeons will be looking for a source of calcium and calcium is hard to come by. They do eat grit and small stones so they probably get a little bit of calcium that way. It’s not impossible that they could eat bones too. I have a wildebeest skull on the shed at the bottom of my garden and over time, the bone has started to break down and become porous and soft inside. Now the blue tits are coming and taking bits of that skull as a source of calcium. I’ve never seen pigeons on that skull, but it’s probably because they’re not agile enough to get up to it. They have to find sources of calcium somewhere, so it could be that the small pieces of bone on the chicken provide that.

    So they’re not gross for eating chicken, just resourceful?
    All a bird does all day every day is search for food because they can’t have a big breakfast and be done with it. They have to eat small amounts throughout the day. So they’re spending all day every day looking for food and that includes checking out bits of chicken.

    Thanks Paul. And thanks Science. I guess there’s nothing repulsive about pigeons feasting on the carcasses of dead birds after all.

    @sophwilkinson

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    THE recently issued sixth bulletin on wood pigeon studies being organized from the British Trust for Ornithology at Oxford contains some interesting observations of agricultural importance. The examination of nearly 4,000 wood pigeon crops suggests that, contrary to the general belief of farmers, wood pigeons do not eat the ‘heart’ or buds of clover plants ; they eat the leaves and not the buds. Nor do they normally eat young corn but only the seed. During the mild winter of January and February 1943, wild fruits like ivy berries, haws and acorns were found in the 393 crops examined, whereas during the more normal winter of January and February 1942 (131 crops examined) the main food was shown to be cultivated clover. With the co-operation of phenologists a record is being made of the local variations in the abundance of acorn crops, because this seems to be the controlling factor for the movements of the wood pigeon flocks in Great Britain in winter. This might influence forestry work. The food habits of the smaller stock dove are shown to differ. This bird does not take the same food as the wood pigeon: it appears to be more of a ground-feeding species, living almost entirely upon cereals, weed seeds and roots. When the extra acres of woodland are scientifically managed after the War, they may attract the wood pigeon to feed there in the autumn instead of in the farm fields.

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