What Do Baby Pigeons Eat

What Do Baby Pigeons Eat


What Do Baby Pigeons Eat: The ubiquitous pigeon, often overlooked as a symbol of urban life, has become a familiar sight in cities around the world. Yet, despite their prevalence, there is much that remains mysterious about these birds, particularly when it comes to their early stages of life. Unlike many other bird species, pigeons are known for their adaptability to urban environments. They are often found perched on building ledges, foraging for scraps in parks, or taking flight through crowded city streets. However, when it comes to the diet of baby pigeons captivity, it’s a topic less frequently explored. To uncover the dietary habits of baby pigeons, we must delve into the hidden world of pigeon nests, where these chicks spend their initial days of life. 

Pigeons are known for their resourcefulness, and this extends to their nesting habits. Pigeon nests are commonly found in sheltered spots on buildings, window ledges, and other concealed locations. These nests are crafted from twigs, leaves, and other debris, providing a cozy home for pigeon chicks. Once hatched, baby pigeons, or squabs, are entirely dependent on their parents for sustenance. Pigeon parents, often referred to as cocks and hens, play an essential role in nurturing their offspring. The primary source of nutrition for baby pigeons is pigeon milk, a special secretion produced by the adult birds. 

Pigeon milk is not like the milk mammals produce but rather a semi-solid substance that is regurgitated from the parents’ crops, a specialized part of their digestive system. Pigeon milk is rich in nutrients, squabs with the essential proteins, fats, and vitamins they need for rapid growth. It’s a fascinating adaptation that sets pigeons apart from many other bird species. As the chicks grow, their diet gradually shifts to include more solid food. Pigeon parents partially digested seeds and grains into the chicks’ diet, transitioning them to a more conventional pigeon diet as they mature.

What can I feed a baby pigeon?

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.

Baby pigeons are initially fed a substance called pigeon milk, which is a specialized secretion produced by their parents. It’s not actual milk like mammals produce, but a semi-solid, nutrient-rich substance regurgitated by adult pigeons. Pigeon milk is essential for the squab’s early growth, providing them with the necessary proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. If you’re raising a baby pigeon, it’s challenging to replicate pigeon milk, so if possible, try to find a surrogate pigeon parent to feed the squab.

In the absence of a surrogate pigeon parent, you can use commercial pigeon milk replacers specifically formulated for baby pigeons. These products closely mimic the nutritional composition of pigeon milk and can be found at pet supply stores or online. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation and feeding.

As baby pigeons grow, their diet naturally transitions from pigeon milk to solid food. Pigeon parents typically partially digested seeds and grains to their chicks’ diet. When you’re ready to transition a baby pigeon to solid food, you can start offering them a mixture of soaked and softened pigeon feed or birdseed. Gradually reduce the amount of milk replacer while increasing the solid food. This transition is essential for the squab’s development.

What do you feed a stray baby pigeon?

Babies that are 2 weeks old or over can be fed defrosted corn and peas, served warm . They can be popped into the beak one at a time, feeding until the crop feels squishy like a bean bag, the kernels sliding against each other NOT forming a solid mass. Check the crop with your finger several times during each feed.

It’s essential to determine the age of the stray baby pigeon before deciding on the appropriate diet. Baby pigeons go through distinct developmental stages, and their dietary requirements change accordingly. The age can be roughly estimated by observing their feathering and overall size.

If you encounter a very young squab that still has minimal feathering, you will need to a pigeon milk replacer. Commercial pigeon milk replacers can be found at pet supply stores or online. These products are specially formulated to mimic the nutritional composition of pigeon milk, which is essential for the squab’s early growth.

As the baby pigeon grows, its diet will naturally transition from liquid to solid food. You can soak and soften pigeon feed or a mix of birdseed suitable for pigeons. Gradually reduce the amount of milk replacer while increasing the solid food. This transition is vital for the squab’s development.

What not to feed a baby pigeon?

Birds should never be offered milk (they are not mammals), and for the most part should not have things like bread, oatmeal, and other low nutrient foods. Feeding the wrong thing can worsen a situation and even kill the animal by disturbing the digestive system – especially an animal already in distress.

Baby pigeons should not be given dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt. Pigeons are lactose intolerant, and dairy can upset their digestive system and cause diarrhea. While it’s a common misconception that bread is a suitable food for pigeons, it lacks the essential nutrients they need for proper growth and development. Feeding bread can lead to malnutrition and health issues in baby pigeons.

Avoid feeding baby pigeons any human junk food, such as chips, candy, or processed snacks. These foods offer no nutritional value and can harm their health. High-sodium foods like salty chips or pretzels should be avoided as they can dehydrate the bird and lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Baby pigeons should not consume sugary foods or drinks like soda or candy. Excessive sugar can disrupt their metabolism and lead to obesity. Always ensure that the food you offer to baby pigeons is fresh and free from mold. Moldy or spoiled food can cause digestive issues and lead to illness.

Pigeons have sensitive digestive systems, and spicy foods can irritate their gastrointestinal tract. Avoid feeding them anything with spices or hot sauces. Never administer medications or supplements meant for humans or other animals to baby pigeons without consulting a veterinarian. Pigeons have different physiological needs and may react adversely to certain substances.

Do baby pigeons need milk?

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.

Pigeon milk is produced by both the male (cock) and female (hen) parent pigeons. It’s a secretion generated in the crop, a specialized part of their digestive system. This “milk” is rich in essential nutrients, including proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, making it a crucial source of nourishment for squabs.

During the first few days to weeks of a baby pigeon’s life, pigeon milk constitutes their entire diet. It the necessary nutrients for rapid growth and development during this critical phase. Squabs are born with undeveloped digestive systems, making pigeon milk an easily digestible and perfectly tailored food source.

As squabs grow, their diet gradually transitions from pigeon milk to solid food. Pigeon parents partially digested seeds and grains to their chicks’ diet, facilitating the development of the squabs’ digestive systems. This gradual transition helps prepare the young pigeons for a diet of solid food as they mature.

Pigeon milk is unique to pigeons and cannot be substituted with any other type of milk, whether from mammals or other birds. It contains specific nutrients essential for the squabs’ growth and overall health. The role of pigeon milk is essential in ensuring the survival and well-being of baby pigeons. 

Is milk good for baby pigeons?

Pigeons feed their babies on milk.

The pigeons nesting in the park’s woods feed their young with something very similar to mammalian milk: a whitish liquid filled with nutrients, fats, antioxidants, and healthy proteins, called crop milk or pigeon milk.

Not Mammalian Milk: Pigeon milk is distinct from mammalian milk, such as cow’s milk or human breast milk. It is not suitable as a substitute for any form of mammalian milk for baby pigeons. Squabs’ digestive systems are adapted to process pigeon milk, not the lactose-containing milk produced by mammals.

Pigeon Milk: Pigeon milk plays a crucial role in the early development of baby pigeons. It is their sole source of nutrition during the initial days to weeks of life. Pigeon parents regurgitate this semi-solid substance to feed their chicks, ensuring that they receive the specific nutrients needed for their growth and development.

Transition to Solid Food: As baby pigeons grow, their diet gradually transitions from pigeon milk to solid food. Pigeon parents partially digested seeds and grains into their chicks’ diet, facilitating the development of the squabs’ digestive systems. This gradual transition prepares the young pigeons for a diet of solid food as they mature.

Can pigeons eat rice?

Larger birds such as doves and pigeons eat rice as a whole grain, but their esophagus is much larger. Breeding birds are expected to bring only a small amount of rice to the chicks anyway. Parent birds switch to a high-protein diet while raising the young in the nest.

It’s essential to pigeons with cooked rice. Raw rice is difficult for birds to digest, and cooking makes it more palatable and digestible. Ensure that the rice is fully cooked and has cooled down before offering it to the pigeons. Pigeons should be given plain, unseasoned rice. Avoid adding salt, spices, sauces, or any other flavorings, as these can be harmful to pigeons. Plain white or brown rice is the best option.

While rice can be a part of a pigeon’s diet, it should not be the sole food source. Pigeons, like all birds, benefit from a varied diet that includes a range of grains, seeds, and other nutritious foods. Rice can be one component of this diet but should not be the only item they consume. Feeding pigeons in public spaces is a common practice in many urban areas. If you choose to feed pigeons, do so in moderation. Overfeeding pigeons or providing them with too much rice and other human food can lead to health issues and disrupt their natural foraging behaviors.

Pigeons thrive on a balanced diet that includes grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Consider offering a mix of these foods to ensure that the pigeons receive a wide range of essential nutrients. Always clean, fresh water alongside any food you offer to pigeons. Access to water is crucial for their overall health and digestion.

Can baby pigeons drink water?

If the baby pigeon is over about three/four weeks old but less than six weeks, you should be feeding it wet sloppy food which will give it sufficient liquid. After six weeks, it should be able to drink water from a tray or shallow bowl.

Baby pigeons start their lives primarily consuming pigeon milk, which is regurgitated by their parents and is rich in essential nutrients. However, as they grow and develop, they gradually transition to solid food, mirroring the process of weaning. As squabs begin to eat solid food, it’s crucial for them to water. Providing a shallow dish of clean, fresh water is essential to keep them hydrated. The introduction of water coincides with the gradual reduction of their reliance on pigeon milk.

Ensure that the water you use is clean and changed regularly to prevent contamination. Baby pigeons, like all birds, are vulnerable to diseases that can be transmitted through dirty water sources. Use a shallow container to make it easy for the squabs to access the water without the risk of drowning. Pay attention to the squabs’ behavior and overall health to monitor their hydration levels. Dehydrated baby pigeons may appear lethargic, with dry or sunken eyes. If you suspect dehydration, ensure they have access to water and consult with a veterinarian.

While water is essential for hydration, squabs need a balanced diet that includes solid food appropriate for pigeons. Water complements their diet but should not replace it. Pigeon parents typically partially digested seeds and grains to their chicks’ diet, preparing them for a diet of solid food as they mature. In the wild, pigeons learn to drink water from their parents and other adult pigeons, observing their behavior. In a domestic setting, providing access to clean water is necessary to ensure their well-being.

Do pigeons eat dal?

When I was working in my living room, two pigeons flew into my balcony. They roamed here and there for a minute, perhaps searching for food. So, I thought of feeding them some chana dal (gram pulses) and rice grains. At first, they quickly ate chana dal, and then rice grains.

Dal is a good source of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Pigeons, like many birds, can benefit from the nutrients found in legumes like dal as part of their diet. Pigeons have a varied diet in the wild, which includes grains, seeds, and plant matter. Introducing dal into their diet can add diversity to their nutritional intake and contribute to their overall health.

If you intend to feed pigeons dal, it should be cooked and softened. Raw or uncooked pulses are difficult for pigeons to digest and may not the same nutritional benefits. Cooking dal thoroughly until it becomes soft and edible is to make it suitable for pigeons. When offering dal to pigeons, ensure that it is plain and unseasoned. Avoid adding salt, spices, or other flavorings, as these can be harmful to pigeons. Plain, cooked dal is the best option.

While dal can be part of a pigeon’s diet, it should not be the sole food source. Pigeons require a balanced diet that includes a variety of grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods. Offering a mix of these foods will help ensure that pigeons receive a wide range of essential nutrients. Always clean, fresh water alongside any food you offer to pigeons. Access to water is crucial for their overall health and digestion.


In the baby pigeons eat, we have unraveled a fascinating story of avian adaptation and survival. Pigeons, often dismissed as mere city dwellers, have proven to be remarkable in their ability to for their young in the urban jungle. From their hidden nests perched on building ledges to the mysterious pigeon milk that sustains their chicks, these birds have a unique and awe-inspiring way of nurturing their offspring. The revelation that baby pigeons initially subsist solely on pigeon milk is a testament to the resourcefulness of these birds. While other birds may rely on insects or worms as their primary source of nourishment, pigeons have evolved a specialized feeding strategy. 

Pigeon milk is not only nutritionally rich but also showcases the intricate adaptations that have allowed pigeons to thrive in diverse environments. As baby pigeons grow, their diet gradually transitions to include solid food, mirroring the transition from helpless chicks to independent, adult pigeons. This shift underscores parental care in pigeon families. The adults feed their young to seeds and grains, gradually weaning them off pigeon milk and equipping them with the skills they need to forage in the urban landscape. Our exploration of what baby pigeons eat sheds light on the multifaceted nature of urban wildlife. 

Pigeons, often seen as pests by some, are revealed as resilient creatures that have successfully adapted to the challenges of city life. They have mastered the art of finding sustenance amidst concrete and steel, all while raising their young in the shadows of towering skyscrapers. This inquiry into pigeon nutrition encourages us to reconsider our perceptions of wildlife in urban environments. It reminds us that even in the most bustling metropolises, nature persists. Pigeons are not just symbols of city life; they are living beings with intricate behaviors, including a remarkable approach to nurturing their offspring.

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