Pigeons (Columba livia)


Pigeons are a common species of birds found in many urban areas. People derive pleasure in feeding pigeons. Pigeons are easily recognized by their “coo-oo-oo” sounds and the way their head bobs when walking. They typically have grey bodies with a white rump. However, body color can range from grey, white, tan or black.

Pigeons have a black band on their tail and red feet. Pigeons are considered a serious bird pest associated with buildings. Although they are primarily seed or grain eaters, in urban areas pigeons will feed on garbage, spilled grains, insects, food left out by outdoor restaurants, and food intentionally left out by bird lovers who feed pigeons bread, peanuts, and cookie crumbs.

Pigeons prefer to congregate together when roosting, loafing and feeding. Roosting, feeding and loafing sites are usually separate areas. Roosting sites are in areas protected from the elements and are used for nesting, congregating at night and for shelter. Loafing sites are nearby sites used by inactive birds during the day. Feeding sites may be a distance away. When pigeons are not feeding or mating, most of their time is spent on cooing, preening and sun bathing. Roosting sites are normally flat, smooth surfaces where pigeons can rest and feed.

Pigeons prefer open feeding areas so it is common to observe pigeons feeding on top of tall buildings. Common roosting and loafing sites include building roofs and ledges, towers, monuments, bridges and signs. Common feeding sites are such areas as parks, squares, food loading docks, garbage areas, railroad sidings, food plants and wherever people eat outdoors.

Male pigeons reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 months of age; females at 6 months. Pigeons usually mate for life unless a mate dies. If a mate dies, the surviving mate will re-mate within a few days. Once pigeons have selected a mate and mating has begun, they start construction of a nest. Nests are constructed by both the male and female but the male selects the nest site

Nests are usually located in protected areas in or on buildings or structures. One or two creamy white eggs are laid 8-12 days after mating. The eggs are incubated by both parents for approximately 18 days. Young pigeons commence feeding on solid food 10 days after birth and by the time they are a month old, the young are full grown. Life span of a pigeon is extremely variable. The life spans can range from 3 to 15 years.