What Do Pigeons Eat

Pigeon Diet: Everything You Need to Know

We usually see pigeons eating only seeds but that is not all, pigeons eat a variety of foods. Most are healthy for them, but some are toxic and this is why you should never feed anything to your pigeon unless you are certain that it is good for your pigeon. I do the same and based on my research, here is what I have found.

Pigeons eat several kinds of seeds, grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and insects. Their primary diet is seeds and grains, but they can eat other foods if seeds and grains are unavailable.

In this article, I am going to share everything that pigeons can eat and also the foods that you should avoid feeding them.

What Seeds Do Pigeons Eat?

Pigeons love to eat seeds and they eat almost all kinds of seeds. Every seed has unique nutrients and minerals that help keep pigeons healthy. But feeding them just one seed in large quantity provides them limited nutrition. [1] Moreover, most seeds are enriched with protein, and fat which is good for pigeons but only if served in small proportions.

You should serve your pigeons a variety of seeds rather than feeding just one kind of seed in large quantity. I have listed below all the seeds that are safe and healthy for pigeons.

  • Sesame seeds are good for pigeons. They contain protein and vitamin B which are essential for pigeon health. However, they also contain fats in a small proportion, they should be served in limited quantities.
  • Sunflower seeds are beneficial for them. These seeds are enriched with protein, vitamins, and minerals which is healthy for pigeons. I’ve noticed, that pigeons eat as many sunflower seeds as you feed them, they won’t stop until their stomach is full. Even if they are fed sunflower mixed with other seeds, they prefer eating sunflower first. Eating too many sunflower seeds can imbalance their vitamin and mineral levels. Moreover, it can cause diarrhea. This is why, sunflower seeds should be served in small proportions, mixed with other seeds.
  • Chia seeds are healthy for pigeons. They contain protein, amino acids, and thiamin that are beneficial for their growth, improve their immunity against diseases, and prolong their lifespan. Chia seeds also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are good in small quantities but not in large quantities. This is why Chia seeds shouldn’t constitute a major portion of the pigeon diet.
  • Pumpkin seeds are good for pigeons. They are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Pumpkin seeds are beneficial for pigeon heart and liver. But like some other seeds, they also contain fatty acids and hence they should be served in small fractions.
  • Safflower seeds are beneficial for pigeons. They are enriched with protein, fat, and carbohydrates which keeps pigeons energetic. Safflower seeds lower cholesterol levels in pigeons and also boost their immunity against heart diseases. Like some other seeds, safflower seeds also contain a high concentration of fatty acids which is why they shouldn’t be served a lot.
  • Flax seeds are good for pigeons. They contain protein, fiber, omega-3, and vitamin-b which is why they are really good for pigeon health. Flax seeds boost pigeons’ immunity against fungal diseases, regulate their blood pressure, and give them energy.
  • Nyjer seeds are enriched with protein, fats, fiber, and calcium. They help protect pigeons against asthma and other lung diseases. Moreover, they also improve the healing process in injured pigeons.
What Seeds and Grains Do Pigeons Eat

What Grains Do Pigeons Eat?

Pigeons eat several kinds of grains. They like to try every kind of grain served to them. But not all grains are good for them. I have listed below some grains that are healthy for pigeons and that pigeon expert also recommend.

  • Millet is one of the most nutritious and healthy grains that you can feed pigeons. It is high in protein and contains a small fraction of fat. It improves their cardiovascular health and regulates their weight.
  • Rice is safe and healthy for pigeons. It keeps pigeons active, improves their nervous health, and reduces the risk of cancer. The myth about feeding rice to pigeons that it explodes their stomachs is not true.
  • Wheat is enriched with dietary fiber which is good for the pigeon’s digestive system. It also regulates their sugar and cholesterol levels and keeps the reproductive system healthy.
  • Barley is healthy for pigeons but they don’t like it as much as other grains. Barley contains fiber that is good for bowel movement in pigeons.
  • Soybean is safe for pigeons if fed in small quantities. It has anti-inflammatory properties which are beneficial for pigeon health. It is also high in fiber and protein.
  • Granola boosts pigeons’ immunity against diseases and increases their cognitive activity. It is also a source of iron, magnesium, vitamin-b, and vitamin-c.
  • Quinoa helps protect pigeons against cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Its anti-oxidant properties prevent damage to organs and keep pigeons healthy.
  • Oats are beneficial for the digestive system of pigeons, it relieves constipation. It promotes healthy bacteria and lowers the chances of cancer.
What Nuts and Dry Fruits Do Pigeons Eat

What Nuts and Dry Fruits Do Pigeons Eat?

Like seeds and grains, pigeons also eat nuts. Since nuts are too large for pigeons to swallow and are packed in hard shells, pigeons can only eat crushed nuts. Moreover, nuts should be served in raw form, salted nuts are less-healthy. I also add a fraction of crushed mixed nuts to my pigeons’ diet and they enjoy them.

  • Walnuts are a great source of energy and nutrition for pigeons. They also regulate blood pressure and inflammation in pigeons.
  • Pecans are good for regulating cholesterol and blood pressure in pigeons.
  • Peanuts help protect pigeons against strokes and also fulfill their protein need.
  • Almonds make their bones strong and protect their cells from toxicity.
  • Pistachios are enriched with vitamin b6 which is good for the growth of pigeons. Pistachios also keep pigeons healthy.
  • Cashews also contain vitamin b6 and essential nutrients like copper, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  • Coconuts are good for pigeons if served fresh. Desiccated and dry coconut can be unhealthy as it swells inside the stomach. 
Can Pigeons Eat Fruits, Vegetables and Plants

Can Pigeons Eat Fruits, Vegetables, And Plants?

Yes, pigeons can eat fruits and vegetables but they usually don’t eat them. Whenever I serve my pigeons fruits and vegetables they just taste them, they don’t like fruits and vegetables like seeds and grains. However, to make their diet more nutritious, you can add a bit of fruits and vegetables to your pigeon diet.

What Fruits Do Pigeons Eat?

Although most of the fruits are safe for pigeons (except some) always check on the internet before you feed them a new fruit. Following is a list of fruits that are safe and beneficial for pigeon health.

  • Blueberries & Berries
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Raisins
  • Cherries
  • Cucumbers
  • Mangos
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkins
  • Tomatoes

What Vegetables Do Pigeons Eat?

  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Acorns
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Ginger
  • Potato
  • Mint

Can Pigeons Eat Plants, Leaves, Sprouts, And Flowers?

  • Plants
  • Leaves
  • Sprouts
  • Flowers
What Else Can Pigeons Eat

What Else Can Pigeons Eat?

Apart from their routine diet, they also eat some unusual things. They usually do not like to eat anything other than seeds and nuts but due to food shortages, or nutrition deficiency, they can eat other things. Let’s discuss what other things they eat and should they be eating them?

Can Pigeons Eat Insects, Bugs, and Worms?

Yes, wild pigeons sometimes eat insects, bugs, and worms; they are a good source of protein. But captive pigeons usually do not have access to them and so they don’t eat them. However, if provided to them, they may show interest. I sometimes add dry mealworms to my pigeons’ diet and they seem to enjoy them. Following is a list of insects, bugs, and worms that pigeons can eat.

  • Mealworms
  • Ants
  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders
  • Bees
  • Mosquitoes
  • Scorpions
  • Slugs
  • Wasps
  • Ticks
  • Cicadas

Can Pigeons Eat Chicken, Meat, and Seafood?

Pigeons usually act like herbivores but they are omnivores. [2] They can eat chicken, meat, and seafood in the absence of seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and plants. Moreover, if they are frequently served meat, they can develop a taste for it. Let’s discuss, what kind of flesh can pigeons eat.

  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Shrimp
  • Mice
  • Each other
  • Other birds

Can Pigeons Eat Human Food?

Most human foods are unhealthy for pigeons. They can be fed in small quantities but they shouldn’t be served on a daily basis or in large quantities. In fact, some foods like chocolate are toxic to pigeons. Let’s discuss which of the following human foods can be served to pigeons.

  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Corn flakes
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Clover
  • Biscuits
  • Chips
  • French fries
  • Pasta
  • Spaghetti
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn

Some Unusual Foods That Pigeons Can Eat

Like human food, some pigeon keepers feed wild pigeons leftovers of their animal food. I have also seen some wild pigeons eating rocks and clay which is unusual. Are these foods edible and safe for pigeons?

  • Parrot food
  • Dog food
  • Cat food
  • Clay
  • Rocks
  • Baking soda
What Can Pigeons Not Eat

What Can Pigeons Not Eat?

Although pigeons can eat almost everything that is edible and healthy for humans, they cannot eat a few things. [3]

  • Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Dry bread
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Does Pigeon Diet Vary With The Environment?

Absolutely, the pigeon diet can vary according to the availability of food. Pigeons are opportunistic, they eat whatever is easily available. In the wild, they have to make efforts to find food and they eat whatever natural foods are available. But in captivity, they never have to worry about food, their keepers take care of their diet.

Final Thoughts

Pigeon diet is simple, they eat seeds and grain but they can shift to human food, plants, insects, and meat if seeds and grain are unavailable. Probably this is why most pigeons in the city look healthy and keep breeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

2 thoughts on “Pigeon Diet: Everything You Need to Know”

    1. Yes, they do. I’m soon going to share a detailed guide (article) on pigeon breeding/mating, I’ll mention it in that article. Thanks for the suggestion Lullie.

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