Species group: Exotic Doves and Pigeons
Other common names: Feral Pigeon; Rock Dove; Blue Rock Dove; Zuchttaube
Scientific name: Columba livia
The familiar street pigeon, the Rock Pigeon, is the ancestor to all of the hundreds of varieties of domestic fancy pigeons available today, and you will find an exhaustive discussion of many wonderful pet, hobby, and exhibition varieties in the Domestic (Fancy) Pigeons category. These domesticated varieties have served almost every purpose that you can imagine, from delivering the mail, to producing fertilizer, to serving as food or as military heroes in time of war. For most people, it makes no sense to seek out a pet of this species in the original wild form, when there are so many fine domesticated varieties already developed throughout hundreds, if not thousands, of years of human selective breeding. We'll assume that if you do have a wild Rock Pigeon, it's almost certainly because you have a rescue or rehabilitated bird.
The Rock Pigeon's toughness, including their tolerance of conditions that would cause disease in humans and other birds, has sometimes caused them to be viewed as undesirable animals that spread germs. However, the Rock Pigeon is one of humanity's most ancient companions, and it is one of the most successful birds since the dawn of history. The wild birds have spread across the world, where they may be seen on every continent except Antarctica. They can gather in extremely large flocks in cities, towns, and even village squares, and they seem to seek out places of human habitation.
Do not take baby Rock Pigeons from the wild with a plan to train them as pets. This tough species may carry diseases that could be contagious to your family or your other pets, and taking any animal from the wild without the proper permits is illegal in some areas. If you have found a sick or injured Rock Pigeon, check with a local wildlife official or rehabber about what you should do next. Unfortunately, as a non-native feral species, a hurt or injured Rock Pigeon might not be eligible for some rescue facilities. It might also be illegal for you to release the bird back into the wild when it recovers. There is no substitute for contacting local wildlife officers to find out how you can help the bird without breaking the law.
The typical wild form of the Rock Pigeon is almost too familiar to need description – a chunky gray bird that flies well, with glittering green and purple at its neck, a bobbing head, and charming pink feet. However, you may often observe color variations among the feral birds, since lost and escaped domestic pigeons can still freely interbreed with the ancestral form.
265 - 380 grams (9.3 - 13.4 oz.)
31 - 35 centimeters (12.2 - 13.8 in.)
10 - 15 years
Behavior / temperament:
Rock Pigeons are intelligent birds who recognize the faces of those who are kind to them – and those who are generous to them. It should be a pleasure to teach your pet to fly to your hand for treats. However, be cautious about flying the birds outside, since they taste good, and many birds of prey enjoy nothing better than a delicious snack of fresh-caught pigeon.
Never place a wild rescue Rock Pigeon directly into an aviary. Quarantine the pigeon preferably until it has passed a vet check, to make sure that your bird won't carry diseases to your other birds. Cleanliness is, of course, essential with this species, so choose or design the cage or aviary with an eye toward being easy to clean. An indoor cage for a single bird should probably be at least 36” in length, 24” wide, and 36” tall, and if the bird never has access to natural sunlight, you should probably install full spectrum lighting. Don't isolate this social bird. If it cannot enjoy an aviary with non-competing species, choose a central place in the home where it can enjoy being around its new family.
As we all know, a Rock Pigeon will learn to fly to anybody who is generous with the bread crumbs, but your bird deserves more than a diet of scraps. Choose a high quality commercial dove mix. Wild bird seed mix plus safflower might also do nicely. But you also need to provide some variety – chopped fruits and vegetables, greens, pellets (perhaps sprinkled with apple juice), and even access to a few live insects can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients. All pigeons need access to grit and calcium. An indoor dove's body may have trouble using the calcium because vitamin D3 is often formed from sunlight. Talk to your vet or breeder about vitamin D and calcium supplements. And, yes, by all means, offer some bread to encourage bonding with your pet, especially if it is a single bird who cannot be returned to the wild.
Written by Elaine Radford
affectionate, intelligent, extremely low cost., Vocalizations, house pet pigeon
skittish, Aviary Bird, proper diet
heavy bodied bird, powerful fliers, wide variety
The Perfect First Bird
For whatever reason, I always thought owning a pigeon would be incredibly fun, unique and exciting. I never really had a reason to fabricate these thoughts but eventually, they led me to my first Rock pigeon. I purchased this particular bird from one of the local feed stores, which offered a wide variety of pigeons as well as smaller breeds of birds.
One of the reasons that I gravitated towards pigeons repeatedly was because of their extremely low cost. local feed stores in my area sell pigeons of all ages for prices as low as 4-5 dollars. Now while price should never be the deciding factor for selecting another life, if you ever find that you are short on cash yet still crave a feathered companion, a Rock pigeon would be a great option.
Once my pigeon grew accustomed to his surroundings, his personality really began to shine through. Have patience with your bird though, my pigeon took several weeks to open up and feel comfortable with his new life. As time passed Alejandro grew into a very affectionate, active bird who wanted nothing more than to fly around and land on everyone in the house. My experience with Alejandro was extremely positive, I have owned a number of birds, most of which proved to be good companions, but Alejandro was very special in my eyes.
The only grievance that I experienced with Alejandro was the amount of feces that he felt the need to excrete. Alejandro was by far the messiest bird that I have ever owned. I would not recommend a pigeon to a lazy owner.
Things to consider
-If you are looking for an affordable companion a pigeon is a great choice.
-Once purchased, make an appointment with a Vet to ensure that there are no problems.
-Consider the costs of a cage or pigeon coop, they can be quite pricey.
- keep in mind that pigeons are messy, prepare to put on your cleaning gloves.
-pigeons are extremely affectionate, curious and entertaining once you allow them time to adjust to their surroundings.
-If you find a pigeon's coo annoying at random hours throughout the night, you may want to think about it further..
From Dudedudly May 27 2013 9:56PM
Syd & Midge, The Peppy Pigeon Pair
Syd and Midge were a husband and wife couple for which I provided a home in my back yard for a couple of years. I was not a highly experienced owner but I did the best I could to give the couple a happy home, learning about their needs through book research and phone call questions-and-answers.
I enjoyed Syd & Midge for their 'personalities', their friendly interaction with and responsiveness to me, and their simple beauty. Midge stayed with me for almost 2 years before escaping and not returning home, while Syd stayed on a bit longer with me until I felt it was no longer fair to him to keep him cooped up all alone. At that time, I let Syd fly free in a city bridge area frequented by other pigeons.
In some ways, pigeons are actually a good fit for me personally as a pet owner, while in other ways I can see that they are probably not entirely the ideal pet for me. Below I describe some ways that my pigeons were good for me as a pet owner and some ways that they didn't work out for me. This list is personal to me and my pet-owning experience, so keep in mind that an aspect which for me was a con could for another potential pet owner be a pro.
(1) Beauty: Syd & Midge were just fun and nice to look at, especially in certain lighting. Though mainly gray and black in color, their necks have special and beautiful colors that are especially visible and remarkable when caught in the light of the sun - blues, magenta, aqua/teal, greens, purples.
(2) Interaction/Responsiveness/Mimicry: One endearing and fun aspect of owning Syd & Midge was that I could go to their coop and begin to make sounds imitating the pigeons themselves or the mourning doves from the neighborhood, and the pigeons would immediately perk up and respond to my 'talking.' They would begin to pace back and forth animatedly and to answer me with their own cooing and gurgling sounds.
(3) Cleanup/Upkeep: One good thing about the upkeep for my pigeons was that they lived in a semi open-bottomed coop with a floor of chicken-coop wiring, and this meant that perhaps 80-90% of the pair's poo went straight through the open flooring down to the dirt area of ground below the raised coop. This part required no cleanup, no attention. (See Cons section for the cons of Cleanup)
(4) Nighttime Volume Good: Syd & Midge were pretty much silent after nightfall. I might rate them at about 90% silent after nightfall. I don't remember them keeping me awake much, despite the fact that their coop was right outside my bedroom window.
(1) Cuddle-ability Rating: My pigeons were not creatures that I could cuddle up to nor show much physical affection, as one can with dogs, for instance. I personally prefer a pet that I can hold, hug, and pet.
(2) Cleanup/Upkeep: The annoying part of feeding & cleanup times was dealing with the larger-size bird poop that would inevitably get onto the food & water dishes. I would suggest using gloves. Also, my pigeons had a raised shelf at the top rear portion of their coop where they could rest or escape from the rain.
(3) Weather Shielding/Coop Covers: The pigeons had to be protected from bad weather occasionally if the weather turned particularly ugly. Full coop covers had to be devised to protect them on unusually cold days.
(4) Noise Volume: Oddly enough, I do remember getting quite frustrated with my pigeon pair for one unexpected reason - their unusually loud cooing. This was not constant but sometimes they became so loud that I truly could not focus on my work or studies from inside the house. I was never sure if this was related to a mating custom, just being highly vocal, or a marital disagreement that was provoking raised voices! I would suggest building your coop further from the work or rest area of your home - perhaps at the back of the yard if your yard is long enough to do so or perhaps at the opposite side of the yard from the room you most use for rest, work, or study. I did not have a problem with my couple making noise at night, as they were pretty silent once nightfall hit.
(5) Fighting: A definite con is that Syd and Midge did fight regularly. I never understood the dynamic between the two. Syd was constantly bullying Midge and she would try to get away, often spending time in a corner of the perching shelf while Syd preferred the large crooked stick in the middle of the cage. I have no patience with bullying or injustice, even between animals, so this was a distressing behavior for me to observe in my pets.
Ultimately, I do believe I would consider choosing pigeons as pets again in the future, but I would need to weight the pros and cons as well as consider the matter within the context of my life circumstances and schedule at the time of potential ownership..
From CristinaMinnie2 Jan 17 2015 9:18PM