How Long Do Pigeons Live?

how long do pigeons live

This page was last updated on 1 May 2022

How Long Do Pigeons Live In 2022

The pigeon is a member of the Columbidae family, also known as the Columbiformes family (Latin word: Columba livia). This family includes more than three hundred different species, including the pigeon’s wild ancestor, the rock dove. They have been around for thousands of years, and many religions assign them symbolic meaning in their ceremonies. 

They are generally found in both temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world,  although their original habitat was much more widespread. The only places you won’t find pigeons are the Sahara Desert and the high arctic. 

These birds have been used to carry messages long distances in world wars, and even today pigeons are still used for racing. 

Types of pigeon

There are a number of different types of pigeon such as the feral pigeon, racing pigeon, the rock pigeon and woodpigeons. However, these birds all share similar traits. Their difference in average lifespan tends to come down to their habitat and the amount of care and attention they receive.

Feral pigeons, often found in coastal areas, tend to have shorter lives than domesticated pigeons as they are more likely to be killed by predators, disease or starvation. However domestic pigeons whose caretakers neglect them either unintentionally or intentionally do not last forever either. 

Properly looked after pet pigeons can reach the age of twelve years or more and these birds will often become very attached to their pigeon keepers.

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Pigeon Life Cycle

Pigeons go through a complete metamorphosis in their lives. There is a worm-like phase before the pigeon hatches fully formed from its white eggs. 

Therefore, it takes about twenty eight days for baby pigeons to hatch or be born after being laid by the mother pigeon (a process known as incubation). It will take roughly another week before the baby pigeon will be ready to leave the nest. 

How long do pigeons live as pets?

Pet pigeons are very popular due to their calm, gentle mannerisms. They are also incredibly intelligent which makes training them easy. The average life span for a pet pigeon tends to be between eight to twelve years depending on the quality of their diet and whether or not they receive any medical attention throughout their lives.

They tend to live longer if their diets are supplemented with dried food that is made specifically for pigeons because it contains more nutrients than normal bird food.

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How long do racing pigeons live?

Racing pigeons tend to live longer than other types because they receive the best diet possible along with regular medical examinations which mean any potential problems can be identified early on and treated accordingly. Therefore, despite their increased exertion, racing pigeons usually fly home safely after their long journeys. 

How long do wild pigeons live?

Wild pigeons have a lower life expectancy compared to domestic ones because they don’t receive any attention from humans to protect them from natural predators. The average life span of a wild pigeon tends to be around three to five years, although it can sometimes be as short as one year.

If the pigeons are bred in captivity, then they have a better chance of living longer because their parents look after them until they are old enough to fly away and fend for themselves.

How long do feral pigeons live?

City pigeons

A pigeon is a very common sight in cities in the UK. City pigeons are scavengers and will eat almost anything, which has led to them being considered pests by humans. 

Typically, feral or city pigeons live for two to four years in the outside world due to the dangers of traffic on the city streets along with their natural predators.

City pigeons typically have a shorter life span than woodpigeons. This is because they are more vulnerable to predation and disease. A nest amongst high rise buildings is no comparison with a woodland tree. Additionally, they are more likely to be killed by people who consider them to be pests.

Wood pigeons

Wood pigeons also have a natural advantage and tend to live longer because they are naturally hardier.

They can survive harsher conditions and have a better chance of finding enough food and water to sustain themselves. 

Additionally, the way they fly means that their muscles stay strong for longer which helps them to live longer.

how long does a pigeon live

What diseases do pigeons carry?

Pigeons can carry many different kinds of diseases which are detrimental to humans. However, the most common ones include pigeon ornithosis, cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis.

These diseases are mostly caused by pigeons coming into contact with bird droppings (which is why it’s important to wash your hands if you’ve been feeding pigeons). 

Pigeon nests themselves can also be dirty and have bird mites which can end up being a health hazard for humans when spread through the air. This, in addition to some areas having pigeon control problems, makes it easy to see why pigeons have gained the unflattering name ‘flying rat’! 

The pigeon is a member of the Columbidae family, also known as the Columbiformes family (Latin word: Columba livia).

What do pigeons eat?

The year round diet of most pigeons consists of grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables especially cherries, peas and corn. They will also sometimes eat insects but only if they need specific nutrients like calcium or protein not available elsewhere. In the winter, they will migrate to warmer climates where there is a larger supply of food for them.

In cities, pigeons mostly feed off of leftover foods dropped by human beings or vegetation found on the ground around them. Since they cannot digest cellulose (fibre) very well, a pigeon’s diet can be slightly limited since most plants contain this compound. 

Most wild pigeons also drink water if it’s available but many rely on moist soil to hydrate themselves, similar to most wild birds.

Why are pigeons such a common sight in city streets and urban areas?

Pigeons are one of the most common animals in the world. This is because they were domesticated by humans during the first millennium BC which means they have had plenty of time to reproduce and continue their species. Consequently, there are now more pigeons alive than ever before.

how old do pigeons live

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There are around two hundred and fourty species of pigeon which shows that they can adapt to many different environments without being too much of a threat to other animals or ecosystems. Furthermore, they are very intelligent birds and can link specific sounds with food. 

Why do you never see dead pigeons?

Pigeons generally die in one of two ways – they either get killed by a predator or simply drop dead from natural causes. When a pigeon is killed, its body will usually be eaten straight away by the predator. This is why you will rarely see dead pigeons.

However, if a pigeon dies from natural causes then its body decomposes very quickly, especially in warm temperatures. Moreover, another bird will eat both the flesh and bones meaning that any remains aren’t left behind for us to find.

It is also worth noting that when they feel sick, pigeons will take themselves away from the flock. This is because they don’t want to infect the other members of the group and, if a predator comes along, they will have a better chance of surviving as a smaller target. This is why you do not often see dead pigeons lying around despite how many pigeons there are in a city.

What are the main predators of pigeons?

Owls are one of their biggest threats and they particularly prey on young pigeons which are less able to defend themselves. 

Other predators that are not common but occasionally attack pigeons are domestic cats, some species of snake and even larger birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon. 

How do pigeons stay safe?

There are several ways in which pigeons protect themselves from predators including camouflage, living in flocks and being highly sensitive to danger. Their great eyesight helps to keep them safe too; they can even detect ultraviolet light.

They spend most of their time on the ground and their bright white colouring makes them very easy to spot by predators such as cats, hawks or owls. As a result, they try to avoid open spaces so that there are no areas for animals who have spotted them to hide in wait until they swoop down. Instead, they choose enclosed spaces with many corners where it’s possible for them to disappear from sight quickly.

pigeons

Secondly, they only go out of their way to find food or water when it’s absolutely necessary. For example, if there is a drought then the pigeon will not spend much time looking for more drinking water even though they need it desperately. Instead, they will make do with what little moisture they can get from the soil and grass which means that they conserve as much energy as possible. Their smaller bodies need less sustenance to function properly and this has the benefit of making them less available targets. 

Lastly, pigeons are very aware of danger and will alert the other members of the flock as soon as something suspicious happens either by cooing at them or one of them flying away to raise the alarm. By working together, pigeons are prepared for danger and often spot predators before they get the chance to attack.

Are woodpigeons increasing or declining in gardens?

The number of woodpigeons in gardens is increasing as they use trees and roofs to roost on. They prefer to drink fresh water, so can be attracted to birdbaths and ponds – particularly those with a shallow edge where the water will not evaporate as quickly. Some people put up nest boxes to encourage them to breed close by, however, others prefer to keep pigeons away from their gardens as much as possible. 

You may find fewer woodpigeons away from towns and cities because their food sources become less plentiful, although it isn’t uncommon for country dwellers to find flocks in their fields. 

How to Extend the Life of a Pet Pigeon

Many people choose to keep pigeons as pets; some use them as homing pigeons and there are even those who still use them for carrying messages. You should provide your pet pigeon with a varied diet of grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need. Even boiled eggs can be an option for feeding your domestic pigeon. 

life of pigeon

Make sure that  it has easy access to fresh water at all times. This can be provided using a birdbath or an open container so long as it’s filled regularly and kept clean. It’s fine to add extra minerals such as calcium in controlled quantities if needed but do not use large amounts of any type of chemical as this could cause a health hazard for the birds. 

While pigeons don’t need much space, their living quarters should be well ventilated and free from too many other birds. They also like an area where there is some shelter, particularly if they are kept indoors, so choose a space that’s out of direct sunlight.

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Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do pigeons live as pets?

Pet pigeons are very popular due to their calm, gentle mannerisms. They are also incredibly intelligent which makes training them easy.

How long do racing pigeons live?

Racing pigeons tend to live longer than other types because they receive the best diet possible along with regular medical examinations which mean any potential problems can be identified early on and treated accordingly.

How long do wild pigeons live?

Wild pigeons have a lower life expectancy compared to domestic ones because they don’t receive any attention from humans to protect them from natural predators.

What diseases do pigeons carry?

Pigeons can carry many different kinds of diseases which are detrimental to humans. However, the most common ones include pigeon ornithosis, cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis.

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