Where are the Baby Pigeons?

By Chris Williams on May 13, 2011.

Q. How come we never see baby pigeons being fed by parents? All I ever see are adult pigeons, even in the spring.

A. The reason you rarely see baby pigeons is that (1) the young stay in the nest until they’re as big as mom and pop, and (2) nests are in out-of-sight places.

You’ve probably never knowingly seen a pigeon nest, even if you live in a city. Nests are up high, built on a flat spot on building ledges, roofs, in eaves, attics, or steeples, or under bridges or overpasses. And the nest doesn’t look like a typical bird’s nest. A pigeon’s nest is a rather unattractive, messy, low platform of sticks, small twigs, grasses, and debris. Nests that are continually used are soon full of droppings, feathers, and even more debris.

Breeding can occur at any time of year but most pigeon young are born May to June and again in August to November. Baby pigeons actually double in size daily during their first week of life. During this time, they’re fed pigeon “milk,” a high energy glop that is regurgitated by the parents. After about 5 days, other adult foods such as grain are gradually added to the pigeon milk diet. Ten day old birds feed only on grain and other adult foods brought to the nest. At about 5 weeks, the fully-grown young birds leave the nest. Young pigeons can fly at 37 days. At this time they are able to feed and fend for themselves.

There actually is one way to spot a baby pigeon even if it is as big as its parents. Young birds have brown eyes for the first 6 months. After that, the eye color changes to the orange of the adult bird.



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