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As many of you know, we feed the feral pigeons in our garden. At one point we had rather a large flock visiting us, and it seemed that the numbers were growing quickly, so we had to stop feeding them so much and as often as we did to prevent the neighbours from complaining about the pigeons.

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Visiting feral pigeons

Richard wrote about our growing pigeon flock in 2010: Pigeon Flock! In 2011 I posted my thoughts on the subject of feeding feral pigeons: To feed or not to feed…? Since pigeons can breed all year round, feeding them regularily can lead to a population explosion and that’s when some people may complain about the numbers. This website has some very good information and points of view: Feeding the pigeons

I now only throw out a few handfuls of pigeon seed in the morning, letting the pigeons go elsewhere to search for food the rest of the day. We have a small flock that flies by in the morning, sometimes with a new fledged youngster in tow, but the numbers haven’t grown much since I don’t increase the handfuls of food. I’ve seen the same pairs of pigeons for the past two years visiting us (they have distinctive feather markings/colours) and on the whole the flock looks healthy and strong. We also have squirrels and foxes visiting but I’m not sure if the badgers come to our garden anymore.

Now, for the main bit of news: We have a large bush full of red berries in our garden by our bedroom window (I’m not good with plant identification so I don’t know what type of plant it is). For the past few weekend mornings we’ve heard something on the windowsill and what sounds like a lot of flapping on the bush. What’s going on? We’ve never heard these noises before. … But the cooing gave the game away! :) There’s pigeons on the windowsill and bush!

Woodpigeons are known to feed on berries but I’ve never seen feral pigeons do so, and yes, the berry stealers are feral pigeons! Of course, when we open the curtains the pigeons fly away, so it’s been hard to take a photo of the spectacle. But I was lucky today – the pigeons raided the bush later in the day, so I managed to take this photo of one clinger:

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Feral pigeon on berry bush

Isn’t s/he a beauty?! :)

The window sticker is there to prevent birds from flying into our many windows (I first wrote about it in 2010: Window strikes). Overall, they seem to work, although a few pigeons have glanced the windows since, but no head-on collisions, which is a relief.

For different sticker designs please have a look at these websites:


We received a wonderful Valentines present at work this year: a little pigeon squab!! So of course I had to name him “Valentine”. It was love at first sight. Actually, it was love at first squeak! I could hear him through the box he was transported in. A little “squeeaak, squeeaak”. The volunteer driver said that the baby had been talking to him throughout the journey.

I peered into the box and there sat a fat little dumpling, yellow fluff on his head, light grey feather quills sticking out like a pin cushion:

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Valentine pigeon. 14th Feb 2011

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14th Feb 2011

Valentine received lots of love and attention, was fed and put in a cosy nest in an incubator and he’s been steadily growing into a fine looking feral pigeon:

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Valentine on the 18th Feb

We’ve kept talking and cuddling to a minimum because we want him to remain as wild as possible so we can release him when he’s ready. Valentine has a teddy bear to cuddle up to though, so he’s got some soft comfort when he’s not being fed.

Today another baby pigeon (a bit older) arrived so once we’ve established that he’s healthy, he’ll be put with Valentine for company. That way they will both retain their pigeon identity and be releasable. :)

I’ve been feeding Valentine a bird rearing formula in liquid form, however, I wanted to provide him some solid food to aid his growth, so I gave him some seed from a jar:

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I got the idea when I saw the following website: Bottle Feeding A Baby Pigeon and I have to say it works a charm! :)

Valentine new immediatly what to do when he felt the seed against his beak and started gobbling it all down. He became very excited and flapped about in joy:

We all love this little fella and are eager to see him grow up into an adult pigeon. I’m particularly interested to see his colouring because at the moment he’s very light grey with only a bit of black on the wing tips and a bit of white near his rump. He’s very beautiful. I’ll keep you updated on his progress! :)


The other day when we were walking about in town we saw a lady feeding the feral pigeons on the high street. We walked past with a smile on our faces – someone else was being kind to the pigeons.

Then we heard another lady walk past saying, “Ew, she’s feeding the pigeons,” in a tone that suggested her distinct disapproval of the activity and of the species.

That left us thinking about the situation. The lady who’s feeding the pigeons is possibly doing it out of kindness and love. Feral pigeons that live in towns and cities will eat whatever edible thing they can find. It can be a tough life. As a species, us humans that is, we tend to litter and somehow miss the trash bins provided in towns. Sometimes it’s an accident – the sandwich or crisps fall out of your hand, however, sometimes it’s simply laziness and carelessness and the food item is dropped so that the pigeons or the human street cleaners can sort it out – whoever gets to it first. So people really shouldn’t complain about pigeons. They clean up after us.

So the lady is helping the pigeons in their quest for food, giving them an easy meal. But does this help the negative perception some people have of pigeons? They see the lady feeding the pigeons as something wrong. “Don’t encourage the pigeons, they carry disease, etc. etc.” All that nonsense.

Would it be better for the lady to feed the pigeons in a less busy place, away from negative eyes? Out of sight, out of mind. With less pigeons on the streets maybe people would stop thinking badly of them. Wishful thinking? I think so.

However, there is some truth in the above thought. The more times the pigeons are fed in a town centre or by busy shops, the likelihood of them sticking around and breeding more often is there – thus the population increases and you get hundreds hanging about. That’s when people start calling pest control and the ban on pigeon feeding is enforced.

Then again, a lot of people are attracted to the activity of pigeon feeding. With hundreds of friendly pigeons about and landing on you with that unmistakable “Where’s the food?” look in their eyes, people seem to enjoy the experience and tourists appear simply to see the spectacle and to participate. This is when people may start to view pigeons in a more positive way. They get up, close and personal and see for themselves that pigeons are magnificent.

So the question remains: Do you feed them in towns or not? Do you encourage them to breed more in the cities and potentially ignite the hatred of those ignorant pigeon hating people? Or would it be better to invite the pigeons to feed in your garden, away from the eyes of the general public (and hoping that your neighbours are pigeon friendly)?


The following information is from a fantastic book about hand-rearing birds. It includes rearing guides for a variety of different species.

Hand-Rearing Birds

by Laurie J. Gage and Rebecca S. Duerr

2007, Blackwell Publishing

Chapter 20: Pigeons and Doves by Martha Kudlacik and Nancy Eilertsen

The number and variety of hand-feeding diets being used in rehabilitation and captive breeding are such that they cannot all be covered in a short chapter. The underlying principle is to mimic the natural diet as much as possible.

The first 2-3 days of life, columbids are fed crop milk, which is high in protein and fat. About day 3 or 4, small amounts of regurgitated seed are added to the milk; crop milk production ceases about day 7-9 and regurgitated seed is fed throughout the fledging period.

Table 20.1. Mourning Dove tube-feeding schedule (weights based on California population). Feed hatchling diet to chicks of weights in bold. Birds on the hatchling diet may not require as frequent feeding as is listed. Check the crop at the interval and feed when crop empties.

Weight (grams) Quantity (ml) Hours between Feeds
10 1 1
15 1.5-2 1-1.5
20 1.5-2.5 2
25 2-3 2
30 2.5-3.5 2
35 4 2
40 5 3
45 5 3
50 6 3
55 6 3
60 6-7 3

Above 65 grams, skip meal if any seed in crop

65 6-7 3-1/2

Newly admitted juvenile mourning doves over 70 grams will usually self-feed unless debilitated, emaciated, or otherwise compromised.

70 8 4
80 8 4

Above 90 grams, do not tube-feed unless bird is debilitated. Healthy juveniles will almost always self-feed at 90 grams.

90 9 3x/day
95 9-10 3x/day

Expected weight gains of hand-reared Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.


In pigeons, both the mother and father feed their babies crop milk. It is amazing to watch these dedicated parents lovingly feed their babies:


I won’t go into my love/hate relationship with a certain video website, so here’s the video of me feeding a little squeaker stock dove:

I just love the way baby pigeons beak your fingers when they want food. They are such sweet, endearing creatures and I just cannot get enough of them! :)

Although this week at work my love of pigeons is being tested. We have way too many babies and I have to feed them all in the morning and late afternoon. I love it but it really takes a long time to get through them all. … Who am I kidding? My love is not being tested, just my endurance! :)


At work we have our fair share of baby pigeons that I have the responsibility of hand-feeding. And I must say that whilst some mornings I cannot see past the flapping wings and hear through the intense squeaks, I enjoy feeding them immensely. Baby pigeons – squabs or squeakers as they are called (depending on their age) – are irresistibly cute and crave your attention for food and comfort. It is hard not to fall in love with them.

Note: Just to be clear here – I work at a wildlife rescue centre so all hand-reared pigeons are released once they are old and healthy enough. We aim not to tame them because they need to be released as wild birds.

There are two little darlings that spring to mind now and I want to share the following video clips to demonstrate how adorable baby pigeons can be. Although they are still begging for food from me they are perfectly able to eat seed on their own, which you can see in the videos:

I love the way they put their wings over each other’s back and pat them on the back! Funny!

What darlings! :)

As for feeding baby pigeons, there are many different methods (see end of paragraph for links). At my work we use the ‘gavage’ or tube-feeding method – it is clean and easy once you know how to do it safely. Other methods lean towards a more natural way of feeding them (and I love that idea!) – I think these are good if you only have a few pigeons to rear, since these methods can be a bit messy and more time consuming. The trick is finding which method suits you best – all are good ways to hand-feed pigeons!

Tube feeding a pigeon

Syringe method

Caring for a baby pigeon

Bottle feeding a baby pigeon

I recently tried the latter method (bottle feeding) to help boost the food intake of the baby pigeons with seed instead of just formula and it works really well – as long as the pigeon isn’t afraid of you. If they are then they won’t start eating from the jar – a little encouragement and patience is needed.


I was sat at work sat behind my desk today with the sun beaming down outside when I decided tonight was BBQ dinner night. We bought a BBQ on sunday, and I want to make the most of it!

Although we would love to have Elmo and Georgie outside with us unfortunately Elmo is scared of pretty much everything, a large metal drum with fire coming out of it would most definately freak him out. I’d prefer it if he wasn’t on the BBQ.

So he sits there by the bedroom window staring at us while we (I) cook. He’s not the only one though. I can feel a few dosen eyes focused on the back of my neck, as I look round I see at least 20 pigeons perched on the neighbouring roof waiting for us to clear the way for them to come for their dinner. After all, it is THEIR garden… right?


Some brilliant videos of woodpigeons – parents and their young:


Elmo: I had a thought the other day about Elmo and his funny courting behaviour (see More garden tales). Maybe it is all down to him having bad eyesight?! Maybe Elmo thinks he’s courting a pigeon when he sees the cup (a very brightly coloured pigeon!)? Anything’s possible!

Georgie: Here’s her new hairdo after a shower. I think it is very smart!

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Dora: I shot some video footage of Dora and the pigeons when I took them their lunch (consisting of seed, peanuts and brioche). There was a feeding frenzy – all I could see was their bums in the air! Dora is the speckled one nearest to the camera. She and her mate, Pidge, love any soft and sweet bread or pastry – possibly because they are feeding their young and like any fatty foods. You can see their two baby squeakers under the hutch. Sweethearts.