Discover the Pigeon

Pigeons, often symbolizing peace and love in various cultures, are among the most common birds in urban environments worldwide. This page delves into the fascinating world of pigeons, covering their identification, behaviors, and roles in ecosystems.

Identification of the Pigeon

Physical Description

Pigeons, particularly the widespread Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), have a robust body, short legs, and a broad tail. They typically measure 30 to 35 cm in length and weigh about 300 to 500 grams. Their plumage can vary widely, but most have a blue-grey color with two black bars on each wing and a broad dark band on the tail.

Differences Between the Sexes

Males and females are similar in appearance, but males are generally slightly larger and may have more vibrant coloration around the neck.

Plumage and Seasonal Changes

Pigeons do not experience significant seasonal changes in plumage. However, their feathers can appear more iridescent and vibrant during the breeding season.

Habitat and Distribution

Pigeons are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments, from natural cliffs to urban skyscrapers. Originally native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia, they have been introduced to cities around the world, where they live in close proximity to humans.

Comment éloigner les pigeons - how to get rid of pigeons
Closeup of gray pigeon bird on a city street.

Behavior and Lifestyle


Pigeons primarily feed on seeds and grains but will also consume food scraps and insects. In urban areas, they often gather in large flocks at feeding sites.

Social Behavior

Pigeons are gregarious birds, known for their social structure and flocking behavior. They communicate with each other through a series of coos and display behaviors.


Most pigeon populations are sedentary, with established flocks remaining in the same area year-round. However, some wild populations may migrate seasonally in response to changes in food availability.


Pigeons breed throughout the year, with peaks in the spring and summer. They build simple nests in sheltered locations and typically lay two eggs. Both parents share in incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks.

Conservation and Status

While pigeons are not considered endangered and are, in fact, extremely abundant in urban areas, they play a crucial role in city ecosystems by helping to control insect populations and serving as prey for urban predators.

FAQ on the Sparrow

Can pigeons find their way home?

Yes, pigeons possess an incredible homing ability, which allows them to return to their nests over long distances. Scientists believe this is due to a combination of visual landmarks, the sun’s position, the earth’s magnetic field, and possibly even smells.

Pigeons, while part of urban wildlife, bring a mix of aesthetic nuisance and health concerns due to their roosting habits and feces production. The accumulation of pigeon droppings not only detracts from buildings and structures with its unsightly appearance but also poses a material risk due to the acidic nature of the feces, which can erode metal and stonework. Beyond the visual and structural implications, there’s a health dimension to consider.

Pigeon droppings may harbor fungi responsible for diseases such as histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis. Histoplasmosis arises from a fungus thriving in pigeon (and bat) droppings, potentially airborne and inhaled during cleanup, leading to infections that, while often symptomless or presenting as a mild respiratory illness, can escalate to more severe conditions like fatigue, fever, and chest pains especially in individuals with compromised immune systems. Cryptococcosis, similarly linked to pigeon droppings, predominantly affects those with weakened immune systems, despite its widespread presence in soil globally.

However, the direct risk to humans from pigeons is relatively low with proper precautions. Ensuring good hygiene practices, such as thorough handwashing after interacting with pigeons or cleaning areas contaminated by their droppings, can significantly mitigate health risks. Moreover, controlling waste and food sources in urban settings can help manage pigeon populations and minimize the potential spread of diseases. Awareness and preventive measures are key in coexisting with urban pigeon populations while safeguarding public health.

Employing humane deterrents is the best approach. Options include installing anti-roosting spike strips, netting to block access to nesting areas, or using decoy predators. It’s crucial to ensure these methods do not harm the pigeons but simply discourage them from settling in unwanted areas.

Pigeons are primarily granivorous, feeding on seeds and grains. However, urban pigeons have adapted to consume a variety of foods provided by humans, including bread, popcorn, and other scraps. For their health, it’s best to feed them grains, corn, or peas if you choose to feed them. 

In the wild, pigeons can live up to 6 years, though many live only 1-3 years due to predation, disease, and other urban hazards. In captivity, with proper care, pigeons can live over 15 years.

Yes, pigeons have several natural predators, including birds of prey like hawks and falcons, and mammals such as cats and raccoons in urban areas. Their flocking behavior helps protect them from these predators.

Pigeons bob their heads forward and then stabilize them in space for a moment as they move forward, which is believed to provide depth perception and stabilize their visual surroundings.

Studies have shown that pigeons can recognize individual human faces and differentiate between friendly and hostile people. Their ability to remember people is linked to their survival in urban environments, where interacting with humans can significantly affect their access to food and nesting sites.

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How to Help Pigeons

Supporting pigeon populations involves ensuring they have access to clean water and not feeding them harmful foods like bread. Advocacy for humane treatment and against culling can also support urban pigeon populations.

The Risks Associated With the Pigeon

As pigeons gather in groups, they produce large amounts of droppings wherever they are found. Besides making buildings unattractive, pigeon droppings can carry many diseases that can be transmitted to humans: cryptococcosis, encephalitis, histoplasmosis, ornithosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, Newcastle disease, etc. And that’s not to mention that these highly corrosive droppings deteriorate buildings, vehicles, and outdoor furniture. Bird Solution offers a range of devices to prevent pigeons from reaching the corners where they like to take shelter and nest.

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