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What do pigeons eat and need to survive, what is the best food for pigeons?

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. 

The pigeon is a bird common around the world, along with a dove, these two birds are related to each other and live side by side. The 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. The pigeons are well adapted to human environment and will live on buildings and cavities in houses. They will take advantage of food left over by humans also. They have stout bodies and necks that are kind of short, on top of that’s 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 if in the city. But 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 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 thru the cold. When the molting season starts pigeons will change the diet, also 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 need. Pigeon mom and dad that have a baby will need more diversified food to feed the young. The baby need to grow, and lots of nutrition.

Healthy pigeon needs a balanced Pigeon & Dove Seeds diet that contains 50% grain crops, 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. 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 to 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. Its a great article about how to raise baby pigeons, and you must read it is you have a baby pigeon. Its a great information on what do baby pigeons eat.

Good Pigeon Food:

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

- Wheat is rich in carbohydrates and must be given in smaller amounts, to much and your pigeon will become “fat”. So give it in 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 to 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.  

- 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 its not good for their digestive track, 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 food..

- Pulse  Pulse are 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 and is a good protein source, 50-52% no-nitrate substances, 0.1 to 2% fat and 4-5% cellulose. 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 will reducing 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, and 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 even have health problems. If you are feeding pigeons in the wild then you don’t have to worry, pigeon will find other food sources in nature to supplement what it is getting from you. But if you keep pet pigeons than it is important to educate yourself 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 food for pigeons! You can check great Pigeon & Dove Staple VME Seeds here that is full af all the right nutritions and is the best food for pigeons.

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

Pigeons and doves will not eat insects in large quantities and 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. This you can give from time to time, like once or twice a week. The pigeons and doves are best feed on a platform feeder, where these birds can land easily and provide biger surfaces for these birds. Pigeons find normal bird feeders to 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 as it is for pigeons. 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” of 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, 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.

Birds just as humans need a balanced diet so keep most of your backyard food on bird seed, and 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, 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. 

Pigeons are intelligent birds and will know their human feeder, if they see you feeding them all the time they will come to know your voice and face. 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.

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 build along building ledges, rafters, beams, and under human bridges or inside barns. Most will raise several broods in one season, it can be from 3-4 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 from hatching birds will be ready to leave the nest.

Pigeons come I many different colors and types, more than 20 can be found in the wild and in captivity. The pigeons 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 they “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.


Related articles What do baby pigeons eat

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