A Look at Pigeons And Their Nests: Are They Really as Bad as They Seem?

The most common names for this bird are Pigeons, Rock Doves, and European Rock Doves.

While some consider these birds to be a nuisance leading to a plethora of pigeon deterrents and control products, others, like myself, find them special.

You see, Pigeons are what sparked my initial interest in birds.

I discovered a squab in our barn during my grade school years and raised it to adulthood. This experience has lead me on a lifelong journey of bird discovery.

Join me as we delve into the habits of the so-called Common Rock Pigeon.


Introduced into North America from Europe in the 1600s, these birds have been associated with humans for thousands of years.

These Rock Doves are thought to have been the first domesticated bird, raised for meat as far back as the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Description What Pigeons Look Like

Pigeons have different colors due to breeding by humans. They are the descendants of the wild Rock Dove of Europe.

pigeon bird

Common Pigeon

About 13 inches in length with a dark gray small head, iridescent neck, plump body, light gray back, and 2 dark wing bars.

Mating - Breeding Habits Do Pigeons Mate for Life?

Like Mourning Doves, Pigeon pairs are monogamous, often breeding in consecutive seasons for as long as both birds of a pair live.

This is the definition of Pigeons mating for life even though if one dies, the other will find a new mate.

Most will attempt to raise several broods each year. Sometimes as many as four or six broods will be raised by a mated pair in a single year.

The breeding season of these birds can be all year provided climate conditions allow. There seems to be some slowing down during the winter months.

How Do Pigeons Mate?

These bird reproduce like most birds, pigeons mate by copulation with the female crouching down, the male mounts her and fertilizes the female. This process takes about 2 seconds.

Nesting Habits How Many Eggs, Incubation, What Pigeons Nest Look Like

The Pigeon's nesting habits are a bit unique. The male chooses a nest site in the female's view.

In cities the nest site may be on a building ledges, bridges, which are common, or in rural areas, barns are used regularly.

The male pigeon selects one stick and brings it back, laying it in front of his mate.

The female who stays at the nesting site accepts the sticks the male brings to her and places them underneath her to build the nest.

The nests of pigeons can be found along building ledges, rafters, beams, under bridges, or inside barns.

Pigeon with Nest and Babies squabs

Pigeon With Nest on Ledge Squabs Baby Pigeons Nestlings

The nest is saucer or bowl-shape and made of stems and leaves.

Female pigeons can lay eggs at 6 months of age. The female may sit on the nest a day or two before the first egg is laid.

Pigeons usually lay 2 white eggs in each clutch. Only one egg is laid each day.

Both the male and female will incubate the eggs, but the female will be the one spending the most time on the eggs sitting from mid-afternoon to mid-morning.

How Long Will it Take for Pigeon Eggs to Hatch?

Pigeon eggs will hatch within 17 - 19 days from the start of incubation. Incubation and not gestation period is the term used with birds.

When the eggs hatch, the young are covered in yellow down.

Young pigeons in the nest are referred to as "squabs" although people like to call them chicks or pigeon nestlings.

Pigeon Stats
Pigeon Nesting Stats
Eggs 2
Incubation 17 - 19 days
Nestling Phase 28 days avg.
Broods Can Breed All Year

Initially, the squabs (baby pigeons) are fed what is referred to as crop milk. This is a regurgitated thick liquid food that comes from the parent's crops.

At about 10 days, the squabs are fed increasing amounts of the food types that adults eat and are no longer dependent on crop milk.

The young will double in size in a day and a half. Making them one of the fastest-growing vertebrates in the world.

Within 2 weeks, the flight feathers begin to emerge and by week 3 the squabs are covered in feathers.

The tail and full feathering are completed by the 28th day and their weight is that of an adult.

The young will now leave the pigeon's nest and the male will teach them what they need to know to survive.

This is 10 - 15 days longer than most of our backyard birds.

When Do Pigeons Nest?

The female will begin a new clutch and this cycle will repeat about every 30 days when the weather cooperates.

It's not uncommon for pigeons to breed, lay eggs, and raise six batches of young each year.

Do Pigeons Reuse the Same Nest?

It's more accurate to say that the same pigeon nest site is used as the second and subsequent nests may be built on top of the previous nest.

Older nests have been measured to be as much as 7 inches high and 19 inches wide.

Pigeon Nest With Eggs

Eggs in Pigeon Nest

Feeding Habits - What Pigeons Eat

Rock Pigeons feed on the ground. To prevent seed spoilage and to keep the birds healthy, a ground feeder is recommended for all ground-feeding birds.

The best types of food to offer these birds are properly mixed seeds specifically made for doves and pigeons.

For more information on seeds and photos of each, please see our Bird Seed Page.

What are the Predators of Pigeons?

The primary predators of pigeons include humans, Peregrine falcons, and cats. In the nest, predators include opossums, raccoons, crows, and owls. Hawks will capture perching birds.

Are Pigeons Smart Birds?

According to Professor Richard J. Herrnstein at the Harvard Psychological Laboratories, they are. Pigeons were smart enough to learn all the letters of the English alphabet.

In another study, Pigeons were able to recognize themselves in a mirror. This makes them one of six species and the only non-mammal to be able to do so.

So yes, Pigeons are pretty smart birds.

How Long Do Pigeons Live?

Pigeons may live 3 - 6 years in the wild, with the average being 3 - 4 years.

In captivity, in a proper pigeon loft nest box, lifespans of as long as 15 years have been recorded.

Pigeon Standing Alone


No matter where they live, whether in the UK, India, or the US. wild pigeons are short-lived, but if kept in captivity, they can live long lives with proper care.

Have Your Say! Got an interesting story and a picture or two about pigeons in your backyard? Please Share it With Our Visitors. To share, start here Share My Pigeon Story

Why Are Pigeon Nests So Bad?

Pigeon nests can be seen as bad for several reasons. Firstly, pigeons are known to be prolific breeders, and their nests can quickly multiply in number.

This can lead to an large flocks of pigeons in urban areas, which may result in issues such as excessive noise, droppings, and damage to buildings.

Another reason why pigeon nests can be bad is because they can also pose health risks. Pigeon droppings can carry diseases and parasites, which can be harmful to humans.

Additionally, the accumulation of droppings and feathers in nests can attract other pests like mites, ticks, and fleas.

And then there is the aesthetic perspective, pigeon nests can be considered unsightly.

They can create a messy appearance, especially when they are built in urban areas or on structures such as buildings, balconies, or rooftops.

It's important to note that this does not make pigeons bad.

Pigeons Birds in History

During the world wars, Homing/Carrier Pigeons were trained to return to a loft in the UK.

Troops then took the pigeon birds with them and used them to send messages when radio and written communication were being intercepted.

Pigeon Fun Facts

Pigeons can see about 26 miles.

When fully feathered, adult pigeons have around 10,000 feathers.

There are approximately 400 million pigeons in the world.

The average flight speed of pigeons is 60 - 77.6 miles per hour. The fastest speed is just over 90 miles per hour (racing pigeon).

You can learn about candling and hatching Pigeon bird eggs with this article.

You May Also Be Interested in Raising Doves.

birds and blooms magazine cover pioneer woman magazine cover people-magazine cover first for women magazine cover
Birds and Blooms Pioneer Woman People Magazine First For Women

pigeons intelligence studies citation: Pigeons.

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