This is a question that more than 4578 of our readers have been asking us! Luckily, we have found the most appropriate information for you!

Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving, both from heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and from increased research into birds’ different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Different species of birds often require different foods.

Several types of commercially formulated pelleted diets in various colors, shapes, and sizes have been developed to meet all birds’ nutritional needs. Pellets should ideally represent approximately 50% of a pigeon’s diet along with small amounts of seed and fresh produce. Finely chopped vegetables and greens, plus smaller amounts of fruit, should be offered as part of a pigeon’s or dove’s daily diet. Unlike hook-billed parrots, pigeons and doves have small beaks, so vegetables and fruits should be shred or cut up into tiny, manageable pieces. Fruits and vegetables should be offered inaseparatedish from pellets and other foods.Ifyourbirdappearsto developaparticularfancyforonefooditem,reduceitsvolume,orstopfeedingittemporarilytopromotetheconsumptionofother foods. Some birds enjoy a very tiny amount of lean cooked meat, fish, egg or cheese occasionally. Specific vitamins or minerals may be more important at various times during a bird’s life (e.g., egg laying requires calcium supplementation). To aid in the breakdown of food, pigeons and doves may be offered a small amount of crushed eggshell or digestible oyster shell grit which can also serve as a source of calcium. Many birds will, in fact, have gastrointestinal problems if they overeat grit, so only digestible oyster shell should be offered.

What is pigeons favorite food?

Domestic pigeons don’t have access to lunch leftovers in the park, so their diet consists of their favorite food: grains, including corn, peas, wheat and sorghum. The grains are not cooked or popped — they are fed to the pigeons raw.

What can I feed a pigeon at home?

Whenever possible, always feed pigeons a mixture of grains and seeds. Should you feed the pigeons from home or at a local park, you can feed them a mixture sesame seed, porridge oats, handful of rice, sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts.

What should you not feed pigeons?

In order to maintain a healthy diet for a pigeon, you must emulate the grain intake they would get in the wild. Avoiding foods normally reserved for people, like bread, cheese and meats. Wild pigeons eat a diet filled mainly with non-fiber items like grains and seeds.

What do wild pigeons like to eat?

What do wild pigeons and doves eat? Wild pigeons and doves eat a variety of grains, seeds, greens, berries, fruits, and will occasionally eat insects, snails and earthworms.

Pigeons are wild birds that typically survive on a mixture of different foods. Whether they are wild or domesticated, all pigeons have roughly the same diet of seeds, small insects and even small lizards. As bird control specialists in the UK, we’re able to provide accurate and helpful information regarding pigeon diets and lifestyles. Below, we’ll explore some of their most common dietary foods and habits and what they can’t eat and shouldn’t be fed.

Generally speaking, the pigeons that dominate our cities and urban environments will eat almost anything, from insects to leftover food we throw out. Again, this includes insects such as worms and ants, as well as seeds, fruits, berries and vegetables. Wild pigeons typically live in forests and coastal areas, so their diet depends entirely on what nature provides them with. Their diet also demands protein and fat to remain healthy, whether that’s from nuts, fruits or other animals. Pigeons have very successfully adapted to our urban environments and are able to nest, feed and thrive in our busiest towns and cities. Urban pigeons live on whatever they can find and their diet covers almost anything, including leftover food we throw away/drop. With baby and newborn pigeons, it’s important that their diet includes a high volume of protein in order to help with their early development. Adults do not require such high levels of protein, but macronutrients are crucial for baby and newborn pigeon muscle, tissue and physical development. After one week or sometimes less, baby pigeons will be able to eat other food alongside their staple crop milk. However, in order for them to efficiently gather and consume food, they must first be able to safely leave their nests and fly. If you are experiencing any pigeon or bird-related issues , speak to one of our pest control experts today for further help and assistance.

You’ve probably seen them pecking away at the detritus of the streets, eating everything from bread crumbs to bits of rock, but what do wild pigeons eat and what’s healthy for them?

The healthiest options are still the seeds and grains they would find in the wild, along with the occasional serving of bugs and snails. Easy to eat, and offering a healthy balance of nutrients, wheat can make up 25%, or more, of a pigeon’s diet. They tend to pass up on softer varieties, particularly freshly reaped grains that haven’t had a chance to dry. It has a decent fat to protein ratio, but too much of it can result in birds gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. The protein is crucial for the development of the chicks, while the fat and carbs provide energy for both the babies and their parents. It contains the trifecta of protein, fibre, and fat, though too much corn can lead to weight trouble very quickly. That extra insulation isn’t such a bad thing during the winter, however, and corn is a good feed for the cold season. The exposed interior of the kernel is fertile ground for mould and fungus, and the broken bits can injure the pigeon’s crop, leading to canker sores. Anyone who has purchased a bag of birdseed has probably encountered these round, red or white grass grains. Sorghum is nutritionally light, primarily offering fast energy via carbs, with iron, fibre, and a small amount of calcium in the mix. Many other birds have trouble digesting this grain and tend to pass it over in favour of more nutritious morsels. In fact, the proportion of indigestible fibre in this cereal grain leads some to consider it less of a feed, and more of an intestinal cleanser. The portion that can be digested contains iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and a small amount of calcium. When barley does make up more than 15% of a pigeons diet, it has a negative impact on chick development and egg production. There is some protein, and negligible amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fibre, but it’s not enough to make rice a meaningful part of a pigeon’s diet. In fact, those who raise pigeons for racing often feed them flax to increase the feathers’ oily waterproof coating. Besides the oils, flax seeds contain vitamin B1, copper, molybdenum, magnesium, phosphorus, and a variety of antioxidants. And, though the oils are beneficial, they do represent a significant fat content that can lead to obesity if eaten to excess. The mineral content includes calcium (in the highest amount among seeds and grains listed so far), copper, manganese, niacin, selenium, and zinc. Gardeners often resort to netting their cabbage patch or spinach plants to save them from a voracious flock. With greens like spinach and kale as part of the menu, birds can maintain healthy mineral levels. Some believe this results from pigeons mistaking the snails for seeds or grit, but this behaviour is most prevalent during breeding, which suggests it is deliberate. Snail flesh contains complete proteins, healthy fats, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, and K, along with folate and helpful amino acids. Newborn and young pigeons are incapable of eating the sort of hard seeds and tough grains that their elders enjoy. During the breeding season, both male and female pigeons produce the protein and fat-rich substance, which they regurgitate to feed the chicks. Humans feeding pigeon chicks commonly use cooked peas as they are of the right consistency and offer a good nutrient variety. However, if you’re feeding wild pigeons from your own home or a local park, then do not solely take bread as it is low in essential nutrients. In the UK and undoubtedly elsewhere too, you will often see in a morning at the seaside resorts, lots of chip wrappers and abandoned food from the midnight revellers…

Pigeons are ground-feeding birds and prefer to take their food from the floor. That won’t prevent a hungry pigeon pinching from your garden bird feeder though.

You’ll often see folk in parks and city squares throwing the congregated pigeons a crust of their lunchtime sandwich or sausage roll snack. Urban pigeons will happily munch on breadcrumbs, popcorn, biscuits, chips, rice, pasta, fish and pet food – pretty much anything that humans leave behind. The pesky birds which throng our towns and cities weigh around 350 grams – the equivalent of a tin of soup. That means your average feral pigeon can get by on the equivalent of a slice of bread each day, though that alone would not sustain it for long nutritionally. We see the signs often enough – “please do not feed the pigeons” – but aside from not encouraging the “rats with wings” to overpopulate urban areas are there other reasons for taking care what we scatter for them? Such an intake can introduce bacteria that pigeons simply aren’t capable of fighting off. Of course, the other reason for not hand-feeding pigeons in the park or precinct is that they can become dependent on humans for food and less likely, or indeed able in time, to seek sustenance for themselves. They are intelligent birds and take a closer look and you will see that their plumage of blue, greens and bronzes is really quite beautiful. Pigeons are also one of the few creatures to have managed to live in our urban environments without hiding in the bushes, alleys and sewers like the fox and the rat.

Feeding Pigeons and Doves

General Information

Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving, both from heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and from increased research into birds’ different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Different species of birds often require different foods.

Should I be concerned about what my pigeon or dove eats?

Proper nutrition is commonly neglected and critically important with pet birds. You should discuss nutritional needs with your veterinarian. Too often, owners assume they are feeding a proper diet to their pigeon or dove when, in fact, they are not. Poor nutrition is a common reason for many health problems in birds. Birds’ health depends on how well they are fed, so it is essential that bird owners are educated about what to feed their birds. Bird owners should stay in contact with their avian veterinarians to stay current on their birds’ nutritional needs.

What do wild pigeons and doves eat?

Wild pigeons and doves eat a variety of grains, seeds, greens, berries, fruits, and will occasionally eat insects, snails and earthworms.

What about people food?

Pigeons have traditionally been fed all-seed diets. Commercially available seed mixes for pigeons may contain 2-5 different kinds of seeds. However, the seeds tend to be high-fat and nutrient-deficient and are not the same kinds of seeds that wild pigeons eat. Seeds are also deficient in calcium, vitamin A, and other nutrients. Many times, these seed mixes are fed as the only source of food, leading to ill health and potentially, a shortened lifespan. Seeds can be part of a pigeon’s diet but should not comprise the entire diet.There are pigeon diets available that contain some seed plus grains. Some are also enriched with brewer’s yeast plus vitamins and minerals. Different diet formulations exist for performance birds, resting birds, and breeding birds. The problem with offering pigeons and doves diets containing seeds is that they selectively eat only the seeds and do not get any of the nutritional benefits from the pellets.
Several types of commercially formulated pelleted diets in various colors, shapes, and sizes have been developed to meet all birds’ nutritional needs. Compared with parrots (hook-billed birds), pigeons and doves have very small beaks and do best with small-sized pellets. Hand raised babies are the easiest to start on a pelleted diet. Pellets should ideally represent approximately 50% of a pigeon’s diet along with small amounts of seed and fresh produce.
Finely chopped vegetables and greens, plus smaller amounts of fruit, should be offered as part of a pigeon’s or dove’s daily diet. Pale vegetables, with a high water composition (i.e., iceberg or head lettuce, celery) offer very little nutritional value and should not be offered.Fruits and vegetables must be washed thoroughly to remove chemicals. Unlike hook-billed parrots, pigeons and doves have small beaks, so vegetables and fruits should be shred or cut up into tiny, manageable pieces. Fruits and vegetables should be offered in a separate dish from pellets and other foods. If your bird appears to develop a particular fancy for one food item, reduce its volume, or stop feeding it temporarily to promote the consumption of other foods.
Fresh clean water must be available at all times. Depending on the quality of your tap water, you might consider the use of bottled water. Dishes must be cleaned thoroughly every day with soap and water.

Will my bird have any different needs throughout its life?

Birds that are extremely young, stressed, injured, laying eggs or raising young may have certain special requirements. There are specially formulated pelleted foods available for birds with specific nutritional requirements. Consult your veterinarian regarding these situations.

Does my pigeon or dove need gravel or grit?

Your veterinarian can help you assess your bird’s diet and its particular needs. In general, birds that are eating pellets as the basis of their diets do not need supplements. Specific vitamins or minerals may be more important at various times during a bird’s life (e.g., egg laying requires calcium supplementation). Calcium supplements are available if your bird is determined to be deficient.

Wheat

This cereal grain is beloved by the cooing coterie and is a dietary staple. Easy to eat, and offering a healthy balance of nutrients, wheat can make up 25%, or more, of a pigeon’s diet.Wheat packs protein, fibre, and fat into each tiny seed. The minerals manganese, phosphorus, niacin and sulphur are also present, the last of which is especially useful during moulting.Pigeons like their wheat grains to have a harder texture. They tend to pass up on softer varieties, particularly freshly reaped grains that haven’t had a chance to dry.Preferably, wheat should be mixed with other, more nutrient-dense options. It has a decent fat to protein ratio, but too much of it can result in birds gaining an unhealthy amount of weight.

Oats

Pigeons are fans of this high fat, protein-rich oat primarily during the breeding season.The protein is crucial for the development of the chicks, while the fat and carbs provide energy for both the babies and their parents.Oats also contain phosphorus, thiamin, and magnesium. This is good for bone health, as well as nerve functionality. Racing pigeons are often fed oats leading up to a competition for just that reason.Pigeons have an easier time breaking down dehusked oats, but will eat them how they find them. That said, this grain packs quite a punch, and should only make up 5% or less of a balanced diet.

Corn

Corn is another staple food for some pigeons, and they certainly enjoy it. It contains the trifecta of protein, fibre, and fat, though too much corn can lead to weight trouble very quickly.That extra insulation isn’t such a bad thing during the winter, however, and corn is a good feed for the cold season. It also has vitamins B1, B9, and C, along with magnesium and potassium.Raw corn kernels are fine, but pigeons also enjoy popcorn. Don’t add any salt or butter, however, as that’s harmful to the health of these birds.Cracked corn should be avoided. The exposed interior of the kernel is fertile ground for mould and fungus, and the broken bits can injure the pigeon’s crop, leading to canker sores.

Sorghum

Anyone who has purchased a bag of birdseed has probably encountered these round, red or white grass grains. Also known as milo, sorghum is often part of a pigeon’s diet.That’s not to say this is a favourite menu item. Sorghum is nutritionally light, primarily offering fast energy via carbs, with iron, fibre, and a small amount of calcium in the mix.Many other birds have trouble digesting this grain and tend to pass it over in favour of more nutritious morsels.Pigeons will also prioritize higher quality foods over sorghum, but they won’t turn their beaks up at it if it’s there.That said, a diet heavily reliant on this feed can lead to various nutrient deficiencies. Sorghum is primarily a filler.

Barley

Barley is a common pigeon feed, but not one that the birds prefer. In fact, the proportion of indigestible fibre in this cereal grain leads some to consider it less of a feed, and more of an intestinal cleanser.It isn’t devoid of nutritional content, however. The portion that can be digested contains iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and a small amount of calcium.The lack of significant fat or protein means this shouldn’t be the core of a pigeon’s diet. Given a choice, the birds will mostly avoid eating it.When barley does make up more than 15% of a pigeons diet, it has a negative impact on chick development and egg production. This underscores the lack of vital nutrients.

Rice

Feeding rice to pigeons was a controversial topic in years past. It was commonly believed that raw rice would expand in the bird’s stomach, fatally. Happily, this has been disproven.Pigeons are among the birds that can actually digest raw rice, so it’s not only safe for them to eat it, but they actually get some nutrients out of it. Unfortunately, there aren’t many nutrients there.Rice is over 80% carbs. There is some protein, and negligible amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fibre, but it’s not enough to make rice a meaningful part of a pigeon’s diet.This is the same whether the rice is white, brown, or instant. Raw rice has a little more to offer than cooked, but this is another case of something pigeons can — and will — eat primarily when there’s nothing better around.

Flax

Flax seeds, also known as linseed, are a type of oilseed. As with other fat-rich feeds, pigeons enjoy these seeds, and the oils they contain are beneficial.Specifically, flaxseed oil is great for healthy feathers. In fact, those who raise pigeons for racing often feed them flax to increase the feathers’ oily waterproof coating.Besides the oils, flax seeds contain vitamin B1, copper, molybdenum, magnesium, phosphorus, and a variety of antioxidants. They make a healthy addition to any feed blend, in moderation.Flax can function as a laxative, meaning pigeons that eat too much of it develop diarrhoea. And, though the oils are beneficial, they do represent a significant fat content that can lead to obesity if eaten to excess.

Peas

Peas are a highly recommended pigeon feed, and they are a flock favourite. Gardeners often struggle to protect their pea plants from peckish pigeons, such is their affection for this plant.These little green legumes are just the right size and consistency for easy consumption. Pigeons digest peas easily and get a tremendous nutritional return.Peas contain high levels of vitamins A, B-6, C, and K. They provide iron, magnesium, manganese, folate, and low levels of calcium. They are even decent sources of protein.The fat content is very low as well, so these can make up around 20% of a balanced diet with no harm done. They don’t have to be fresh from the garden, either. Dried peas are perfectly fine, including split peas.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are nutrient-dense and are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fibre. The list of vitamins and minerals stored in this oily seed is long, starting with vitamins A, B-6, C, and E.The mineral content includes calcium (in the highest amount among seeds and grains listed so far), copper, manganese, niacin, selenium, and zinc.These nutrients are great for bone, nerve, and reproductive health.Pigeons prefer the black oil variety of sunflower seeds for their thin shells and higher oil content, but they will eat the striped version too.High fat, high oil feed has its drawbacks, however. Pigeons that consume too many sunflower seeds experience diarrhoea and may become overweight.

Leafy Greens

Pigeons enjoy most varieties of leafy greens. Gardeners often resort to netting their cabbage patch or spinach plants to save them from a voracious flock.Greens provide a wide assortment of nutrients unavailable from seeds and grains. They have higher levels of calcium and vitamins C and K, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants.Calcium deficiency is common among pigeons on all seed diets. With greens like spinach and kale as part of the menu, birds can maintain healthy mineral levels.Greens also help pigeons stay hydrated. These birds have a higher water requirement than the majority of birds, so they are happy to chomp on fresh leaves full of moisture like lettuce and cabbage.

Snails

Surprisingly, pigeons will sometimes eat snails. Some believe this results from pigeons mistaking the snails for seeds or grit, but this behaviour is most prevalent during breeding, which suggests it is deliberate.Many birds broaden their diets during breeding in search of more protein. Snails are an excellent choice, as they are protein-rich and packed with nutrients.Snail flesh contains complete proteins, healthy fats, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, and K, along with folate and helpful amino acids.Meanwhile, the shell is 99% calcium carbonate, providing a potent source of this vital mineral. The shell can be broken down in the pigeon’s crop along with other grit, so it also helps with digestion in general.

What Do Pigeon Chicks Eat?

Newborn and young pigeons are incapable of eating the sort of hard seeds and tough grains that their elders enjoy. During the early stages of life, chicks subsist on something called “crop milk.”Crop milk is formed from the lining of the crop, the lower portion of the oesophagus where everything a pigeon eats goes first to be broken down by grit.During the breeding season, both male and female pigeons produce the protein and fat-rich substance, which they regurgitate to feed the chicks. As the chicks grow, adult food is mixed in.

Wild Pigeon Diet F.A.Q’s

Humans feeding pigeon chicks commonly use cooked peas as they are of the right consistency and offer a good nutrient variety.

Do Pigeons Eat Bread?

Try alternatives to feed pigeons instead of bread, such as; peas, crumble Weetabix and feed it to them, porridge oats (dried), leafy greens such as lettuce and cabbage.

Can Pigeons Eat Rice?

There is a myth that feeding birds uncooked rice will make them explode. This is fundamentally untrue!! Birds, which includesAs you will be aware of wild pigeons is that they’re incredibly greedy and are always eating. This means that if you feed pigeons rice, then do not overfeed them with this grain.Overfeeding pigeons with any type of food is unhealthy for the pigeon as it limits the intake of other foods that they’d normally eat and provides them with an unbalanced diet.

Can Pigeons Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate can potentially lead to death in any bird. Therefore,You will find that a pigeon will probably eat chocolate but just because it eats it doesn’t mean that it should eat it and that it’s good for them.

Can Pigeons Eat Sesame Seeds?

Should you feed the pigeons from home or at a local park, you can feed them a mixture sesame seed, porridge oats, handful of rice, sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts.

What do pigeons eat?

You’ll often see folk in parks and city squares throwing the congregated pigeons a crust of their lunchtime sandwich or sausage roll snack.

The staple foods of a feral pigeons diet

Pigeons are ground-feeding birds and prefer to take their food from the floor. That won’t prevent a hungry pigeon pinching from your garden bird feeder though.Feral pigeons eat a variety of foods including grains, seeds, cereal crops, plant seeds and peas. They will also feast on berries, fruits and vegetables.Pigeons are generally herbivores but they will eat insects, snails and worms when they need to.Urban pigeons will happily munch on breadcrumbs, popcorn, biscuits, chips, rice, pasta, fish and pet food – pretty much anything that humans leave behind.

How much do pigeons eat?

The average pigeon will eat a tenth of its body weight every day. By comparison, us humans will roughly eat the equivalent of our own body weight every 31 days.The pesky birds which throng our towns and cities weigh around 350 grams – the equivalent of a tin of soup. That means your average feral pigeon can get by on the equivalent of a slice of bread each day, though that alone would not sustain it for long nutritionally.

Do not feed the pigeons

We see the signs often enough – “please do not feed the pigeons” – but aside from not encouraging the “rats with wings” to overpopulate urban areas are there other reasons for taking care what we scatter for them?Certainly pigeons require a lot more water than most birds. That is particularly the case during the breeding season (spring through to summer). For that reason, dehydrating foods are bad for pigeons. Pigeons actually have a fondness for salt too which hardly helps.Human foods, particularly meat, can be dangerous to pigeons. Such an intake can introduce bacteria that pigeons simply aren’t capable of fighting off.Of course, the other reason for not hand-feeding pigeons in the park or precinct is that they can become dependent on humans for food and less likely, or indeed able in time, to seek sustenance for themselves.

The pigeon is a pest after all

Pigeons do get a bad press. They are intelligent birds and take a closer look and you will see that their plumage of blue, greens and bronzes is really quite beautiful.Pigeons are also one of the few creatures to have managed to live in our urban environments without hiding in the bushes, alleys and sewers like the fox and the rat.Yet pigeons are considered to be pests. They do carry disease – particularly transmitted by their droppings. And they can cause damage to buildings and make a bit of a mess when pooping on people and pavements below.If you do have a pigeon problem, be it in your home environment, garden, office building or commercial premises, it is worth understanding what the urban pigeon prefers to pick on in order to send them packing. After all, depriving pigeons of their favoured food stuff is one way to ensure they must go elsewhere to survive.Call us on 0800 234 3140 – or complete our Free Quote Form below.Learn about our Pest Control Services