Do you want to know what a pigeon eats? Find it all out here

The following article is dedicated to the feeding of pigeons, here you can discover in detail what a pigeon eats, due to the wide variety found in their diet, we will also refer to vitamins that are ideal for the care and proper development of this bird.

What does a pigeon eat?

Nutrition is commonly neglected with pet birds. Regarding pigeon nutrition or what a pigeon eats should be discussed with the veterinarian. Too often owners of these birds assume that they are feeding a diet suitable for the pigeon when in fact they are not.

This is one of the very common reasons for many health problems. It is important to continually strive to improve your bird’s diet. This involves constant education and a certain degree of common sense. It is not enough to feed a pigeon just to keep it alive; instead, the goal should be to help it thrive and flourish. The health of the bird depends on how well a pigeon is fed or what a pigeon eats.

Pigeons are robust-bodied birds that are common in large cities. The most common type of pigeon found in urban areas is the wild rock pigeon, which has a short neck and slender beak. Because pigeons breed in large numbers, they have come under scrutiny in many cities, and feeding wild pigeons has become illegal in many urban settings.

Pigeons require a very specific diet to maintain their health, so whether you find yourself feeding the pigeon in the wild or on your own porch, care must be taken about what a pigeon eats. (see article: Characteristics of the white pigeon).

What does a pigeon eat naturally?

Pigeons eat a wide variety of:

  • Grains
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Fruits

And occasionally they also eat some:

  • Insects
  • Snails
  • Earthworms in nature.
  • A pigeon is a kind of scavenger bird, and will look for anything it can find to eat if it finds in the city. But it will have its favorite food, since it is a bird after all. If it likes to feed pigeons, they can be given leftovers, as they will love it for that and come back for more. But this is not a normal pigeon diet, if you keep pigeons and want to feed them properly, so provide a better diet.

The pigeon is also a granivorous bird, taking this into account, they like to eat seeds and grains of:

  • Cereal
  • Broken corn
  • Sunflower
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Pigeon seed
  • Peas


They will eat all of these seeds at any time of the year, but some are more preferable at different times of the year. In the winter seasons, more oil-based seeds are desired to help them get through the cold. When the moulting season starts, pigeons will change diet, also at the time of breeding and rearing young.

It is best to feed the pigeons a kind of mixture of all seeds so that it gets everything it needs. The female and male pigeon that have a chick will need more diversified food to feed the young. The squab will need to grow and much more nutrition.

The healthy pigeon needs a balanced diet containing 50% grain crops, 10% oilseeds, i.e. sunflower seeds. The normal adult sized pigeon can eat about 30 grams of food per day to keep it in good condition. Young pigeon pigeons eat various foods and can get to check what to feed a baby pigeon.

If you continue to play pigeons, the same rules apply, but you can adapt the needs of a particular pigeon. If you want to feed pigeons in the wild, you should know what a pigeon eats there ? You don’t have to worry too much about that, as pigeons will find food elsewhere and will come to your feeder just to supplement their diet.

What is it that feeds a pigeon ?

A well balanced diet should be maintained at all times. A veterinarian should be consulted if you have any problems with the bird’s diet or health. Formulated pigeon seed diets are available. (see article: Pigeon Rabiche).

A commercial diet contains mixed seeds and grains, vegetables and some are enriched with brewer’s yeast plus vitamins and minerals. There are different diet formulations for performance birds, resting birds and breeding birds.

Pigeons are susceptible to calcium deficiency when eating only seeds. Seeds should be only 50% of a balanced diet, never the entire diet.

Pelleted Diets

Pellets have been developed to meet all the nutritional needs of your birds. Hand-reared babies are the easiest to start with a pelleted diet. Pellets are the ideal diet, therefore, it is recommended that you slowly wean seed consuming birds onto a pelleted diet.

Granules should account for approximately 50% of a pigeon’s diet. There are many good brands of pelleted feeds on the market.

Fruits and Vegetables

Finely chopped vegetables plus some fruits should be offered as part of the daily diet. Pale vegetables with a high water composition, i.e., iceberg or lettuce, celery offer very little nutritional value. There have even been reports that avocado is potentially toxic and should not be one of the foods a pigeon eats.

Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly to remove chemicals. They should be cut into manageable pieces according to the size of the bird. It is not necessary to remove the skin. Offer fruits and vegetables in a separate dish. If your bird seems to develop a particular fancy for a food, reduce its volume or stop feeding it temporarily to encourage consumption of other foods.

Treat your bird like a small child; offer a small portion of a variety of foods daily and never stop tasting. A well-balanced diet should be maintained at all times.

The Cereals

They are good and the main diet of a normal pigeon. This food is made up of 70 % carbohydrates, about 10 % protein and 5 to 7 % fats and minerals. These are important because they are rich in vitamins B and E, but lacking in vitamin A. Corn, on the other hand, does contain vitamin A.


It is rich in carbohydrates and should be given in small amounts, in large quantity, and your pigeon will become “fat”. Therefore, in smaller doses.


It is very good for pigeons, and should be included in the diet if pigeons are kept. Cracked corn has a high energy value, a lot of protein and is good for the digestibility of pigeons. But if given in large amounts, it can also lead to weight gain, as it is rich in calories.


Not a favorite for pigeons, but it is good for feathers, will help them in cold weather, and will build the muscles of these birds. It gives a good boost to the pigeons’ blood and nervous system. Don’t give it too much if the pigeons are laying eggs, as it is not so good for the eggshell. Pigeons don’t like oatmeal very much, but it is good for them.


It is good for pigeons in cold weather in January and February. Young pigeons cannot eat this food, and it is not good for their digestion, so it is only given to adults. On the other hand, the adults will benefit from this, as it is producing a soothing effect on the birds’ stomachs and will reduce diarrhea. So put it in the pigeon diet as it will give many benefits.


It has a lower nutritional value for pigeons than wheat or corn, and is not as beneficial to pigeons, but can be given as feed.


Pulses are good because it is very rich in protein (22-40%) but very low in fat (1-5%), they are particularly good for birds because of the rich amount of phosphorus and calcium salts, they contain beneficial amounts of B vitamins, especially vitamin B1, but less carotene.


They contain about 22 and 26 % protein and is a good source of protein, 50 and 52 % nitrate-free substances, 0.1 to 2 % fat and 4 and 5 % cellulose. Birds digest it very easily, it can be mixed in pigeon feed in a proportion of 15 and 20 %. Being rich in minerals, it will help pigeons to grow, together with corn, it has a good impact on the development of pigeons’ organism, increases resistance to diseases and will reduce fatigue.

The Vetch

It is an excellent nutrition for the nervous system of pigeons. It is good to introduce it in smaller amounts in the diet of pigeons, about 15 %. If it is administered in large quantities, it can cause intestinal problems to the birds. That is why it is not recommended for young pigeons, and should be administered only to adult birds, and should be introduced slowly.

Too often, bird owners do not know how to provide a proper diet for birds, including pigeons or doves. If this is the case, the birds may even have health problems. If you are feeding pigeons in the wild, then you don’t have to worry, the pigeon will find other food sources in nature to supplement what it is getting from you.

But if you keep pet pigeons, it’s important to educate yourself, what do pigeons eat? It’s just common sense. It’s best to buy ready-made pigeon and dove seed mix so you know the bird is getting what it needs for a long, healthy life.

Pigeon & Doves seed mix is an excellent pigeon food! You can check out VME’s excellent Pigeon & Dove Staple seeds that are packed with all the right nutrition and all in one pigeon food.


Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Depending on the quality of your tap water, you may consider using bottled water. Dishes should be cleaned thoroughly every day with soap and water.

Pigeons and Bread

When feeding wild birds in the backyard there is often a question in mind: can we feed birds and pigeons bread? If we look at all the data collected over the years, we can say that it works the same for humans as it does for pigeons. Having bread once in a while won’t hurt them and can provide a good source of carbohydrates to their diet.

The problem comes when we start “living” on bread daily and not diversifying our diet. The same goes for birds, you can give them bread as an occasional snack and keep it that way. If you give bread to your birds, make sure it is fresh and not moldy, this can harm the birds. Put just enough for the birds to eat within a few hours or it will spoil and mold will trap it. Just as for humans, race is not the best pigeon food.

Birds just like humans need a balanced diet, so keep most of your backyard food in bird seed, and del is bread below 10% and your birds will be fine. Most wild birds like pigeons and ducks have good memories 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, your pigeons and other wild birds offer bread occasionally. Never mix bread with water, this can make the bread moldy quickly and can harm the birds if weather conditions are suitable.

If you have leftover bread from lunch, you can even offer it to pigeons every day, as long as you also offer it to other pigeons. Corn, wheat, peas and other vegetables are excellent for pigeons. At most pet stores you can get a 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 get to know your voice and your face. That’s why you can see pigeons in parks landing on some people’s hands. These pigeons have learned how to recognize the person feeding them and are less likely to be afraid of them. Some are even bold enough to land on the head or shoulders of their feeder.

Will the pigeon have different needs throughout its life?

Birds that are extremely young, stressed, injured, laying eggs or breeding young may have certain special requirements. Specially formulated pelleted feeds are available for birds with specific nutritional requirements. The veterinarian should be consulted regarding these situations. (see article: Wood pigeon).

Does the pigeon need additional vitamins, minerals or amino acids?

The veterinarian can help evaluate the diet or what a pigeon eats and also its particular needs. One expert suggests that a pigeon eating 50% of its diet in the form of pelleted feed may not need supplements.

Specific vitamins or minerals may be more important at various times during a pigeon’s life such as calcium supplements during egg laying. Calcium supplements are available if your pigeon is determined to be deficient.

Powdered supplements, such as:

  • Nekton ® from Nekton – Produkte
  • Quiko ® or Prime® from Hagen

They are often considered more stable. Mix these products in water or preferably apply them directly on wet food. Placing these powders on seeds or dry food is of little value as it will end up at the bottom of the food dish and not in the bird.

Do Pigeons need to be given Gravel or Sand?

There is controversy about the need for gravel. It was believed that sand was necessary for mechanical breakdown of food in the gizzard as an aid to digestion. Birds seem to do well without grit. Most pigeons are offered a small amount of grit, crushed eggshell or oyster shell. Some birds will, in fact, have problems if the sand has been eaten.


For the consumption of what a pigeon eats these indicators are sometimes recommended:

  • Always check the amount of food eaten each day by each bird
  • Fresh water should be offered every day.
  • A variety of fresh food should be offered every day.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables should be offered every day
  • All food and water dishes should be cleaned daily.

Some suggested foods include the following:


  • Apple cherries but not the stone
  • Pear apricots
  • Chinese vegetables (bok choy)
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Coconut peppers (red)


These vitamins and minerals are responsible for many vital functions of the pigeon. Because it is water soluble, deficiency increases rapidly when birds do not consume these vitamins.

Ascorbic acid

It is a metabolic controller. Generally, in seed-eating birds, such as pigeons, vitamin C is synthesized in the liver and there is no significant benefit unless the pigeon is weakened and unable to produce enough ascorbic acid, specifically if the liver is non-functioning or damaged.

D Vitamin

This vitamin is important for absorbing the mineral calcium in the pigeon’s body. Birds will produce their vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin E as an Antioxidant

This vitamin controls most of the regular metabolic functions within the cell.

Vitamin K

This vitamin is important for blood clotting. All of these nutritional vitamins can be found in green vegetables and can also be produced by regular bacteria within the digestive tract of pigeons. It is rare to have vitamin K deficiency unless you overuse antibiotics that kill each of these bacteria within their intestines or prevent the birds from consuming their specific probiotics or droppings.

If you keep pet pigeons, vitamins and amino acid supplements are a good way to keep your pigeon in good health. (see article: Cuculi).

Do Pigeons Eat Rice ?

A common myth claims that eating uncooked rice will make a pigeon explode. The myth states that pigeons are unable to digest the grain and when it expands in their stomachs, it has nowhere to go. In truth, the birds often rely on flooded rice paddies for food as they migrate north, and animal biology experts say raw rice is no different than what birds eat in the wild so it is something a pigeon eats.

Some Warning

Pigeons require much more water than most birds, especially during the breeding season, so dehydrating foods should be avoided. Salt can dehydrate pigeons, but pigeons love salt and will attack salt blocks reserved for pigs and sheep. Human food, especially meats, are very dangerous to pigeon health.

Human food can present bacteria to pigeons that they are not able to fight off. Diseases and health risks aside, feeding pigeons in the wild can make them dependent on human food and less likely to forage for food on their own so it’s not good for what a pigeon eats.

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