How many of us used to wonder (or still do) where baby pigeons come from? I’ve heard from many people how they never see baby pigeons – how there are just loads of adults about. In a way this is true. You see, the reason why you generally don’t see baby pigeons is that pigeons tend to nest in secluded spots (you’re more likely to hear them squeaking to be fed) and when baby pigeons leave the nest they look almost identical to adult pigeons. To the untrained eye a flock of pigeons all look alike and seem to all be adults, however, those in the know can identify those pigeons that are juveniles and have just fledged. The trick is looking at the cere – the fleshy bit on the top of the beak. If it is soft and the same colour as the beak (or greyish) then it is a juvenile pigeon, if it is hard and white in colour then it is an adult.
Baby pigeons, or squabs, grow extremely quickly and can almost double in size overnight. At 3 weeks of age they attain near-adult weight and leave the nest at under 2 months of age. For photos of this rapid growth go to the following websites:
Pigeon Recovery, a London based pigeon sanctuary, have produced a guide about pigeons that have good information on baby pigeons: Pigeon Pages: How to be a friend to the feral pigeon (scroll down to the bottom of the webpage for the guide).
If you do find a baby pigeon (that small, prehistoric looking creature) on the ground then it most definitely needs to be taken to a pigeon friendly rescue centre for care and hand-rearing. Once on the ground and away from the nest it won’t be able to get back to the nest and the parents won’t be able to retrieve it. They may try to feed it on the ground but the baby will be vulnerable and will most likely die from exposure or predator attack. (See Pigeon Rescue: what to do with injured, ill and orphaned pigeons).
Please never try to feed a baby pigeon any kind of milk, meat or worms – it is not good for them. For the first 2-3 days of their life baby pigeons are fed ‘crop milk’ from their parents. As they get older the parents feed them regurgitated seed mixed with the crop milk, then later simply regurgitated seed (after day 7-9). Crop milk can be replicated by mixing a bird rearing powder with water (such as Kaytee Exact or Tropican baby bird rearing formula). See the following websites for more about feeding baby pigeons: Feeding the Pigeon
Please also don’t try to put water down a baby pigeon’s beak – it can easily go down the wrong way and drown them.
Here’s some photos of the prehistoric looking creatures: