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Every day you can see dozens of pigeons in the streets. Some fear them, others adore them, and finally some decide to have a dove as a pet. But is it as simple as it seems to raise and take care of a pigeon?

Types and species of pigeons

How are pigeons exactly?

Pigeons have been closely related to humans for many years. With its 32 cm long, from beak to tail, and a weight of 0.35 kg., This bird has been used as a carrier pigeon, as a symbol of peace and as a faithful companion for human beings.

It is an animal whose behavior is usually calm. The most normal thing is that those seen in the cities is the rock pigeon, a species that is believed to be in danger due to the multiple crosses it has suffered over the years.

Having food in between, they are very violent with each other or with other smaller birds, such as chicks. This has caused a great decrease in some species of some birds, including the pigeons themselves.

Many believe that they also have a very “heavy” character, because when someone feeds them, they like to follow that person in search of more food or go to the area where they fed it in order to get more food. For this reason they were prohibited in many cities to feed them.

It is advisable to breed several pigeons together?

In some countries, such as the United States, pigeons are raised from their births on dovecotes that are located on some buildings. Although these in recent years are disappearing.

At first, pigeons that have grown up in captivity do not usually has the violent feeling of hurting other companions when trying to get food. However, some species of pigeons have a dominant gene, so it is not surprising that by mixing both species they end up facing each other.

But not only fight for food. Two male pigeons can end up fighting for trying to compare a female. In the same way, two female pigeons could fight in order to get the attention of a single male. So you have to choose very carefully the sex of the pigeon before putting them together in a cage.

How can you Determine The sex of a pigeon?

Not all birds are so easy to distinguish. In the case of pigeons, what needs to be done is to look at the genitals. For example, females have the left oviduct exit resembling a large diameter fluted mouth, especially if they have previously laid an egg. In the case of males, they have two small red peaks in the area, from 1 to 3 mm in length.

But after laying eggs, it is possible to determine the sex of the young. An example is that most times, the first egg that the female puts is male, with a percentage of success not higher than 50%. If the egg is more pointed at one end, this means that it is male. The reason is that being the first the dilation of the cloaca costs more, that’s why it has that characteristic shape.

In the case of having a pigeon and not knowing its sex by the genital organs, you can join the two fingers of the end. In the case that these are equal it will mean that it is a female, but if they are of different length, it means that it is a male.

When they are chicks it is a little easier to differentiate their sex. According to experts, after seven days of life the roundest chicks are females due to their “sexuality”. But the most famous trick is to wait until the pigeon has three or four weeks. The pigeon is placed on the hand, holding its legs, and the pigeon is gently stretched by the beak. In the case of raising the tail, it is a female, but if the low is that it is a male. This system has a success rate of 99% compared to other methods.

Seeing its body shape and behavior also helps you discover what its sex is. As in most birds, the males are a little larger than the females, having a more robust body and with a different head shape. In addition, the sound made by the males is longer and they open the tail in a semicircle during the mating season, while the females swell their plumage. But as for behavior, males often peck the heads of females, which helps distinguish them when they are in a large group.

How should the pigeons cage be?

Ideally, the pigeon should be raised in a pigeon loft, but not everyone has enough space for it. So you have to raise them in a cage or a dovecote by modules in case you want to have different birds. Although, if you have a large garden, you can build a large home loft to be able to have all the birds inside.

In the case of a single pigeon, a 60 × 50 cage, 50 × 50, will suffice in the case of a pigeon. They should have enough space so that they can move the wings. Although if you have enough space, a loft of 100 × 60 is better so it can move inside it.

If you are going to breed, the dovecote will be big enough to have a compartments for the pigeons that will be raised, the chicks, a third for the males that have become widowed and another for the females. This will prevent fights and problems with chicks while they are growing.

It is necessary to place both grids that separate the different compartments as well as with the floor, as well as on the walls. The grids should not has very large holes. It is not that the pigeons are going away to escape, but if the material of this one is not very good, if that they will be able to tear it little by little with the legs to try to flee.

Once the dovecote has been chosen, you have to start decorating the interior so that the pigeon feels comfortable inside. Many hangers are needed, because pigeons like to perch on them. It is beter to remove the ones that come in the cage, since they are not of very good quality, and buy a flat perch of 6 cm in length, another of rope fabric of about 2 cm in diameter and several wooden hangers. All these hangers must be located at different heights, so that the pigeon can exercise inside the cage. Under no circumstances should be placed inside mirrors or objects that can reflect, as this severely damages the vision of the pigeons and makes them very nervous.

Near the cage, in case the pigeon is going to spend a lot of time inside, you have to install an ionizer and air filter, which will help to collect the fine dust that the pigeons expel and that can irritate the lungs of people when coming into contact with these birds in their dovecote.

Pigeons are a bird that live in warm temperatures, between 18 and 24 degrees, or 65 and 75ºF. Therefore, you will have to install some device that allows you to control the temperature of the area where the pigeon is, so that it does not die frozen or heat. When summer arrives, a small fountain can be installed inside the dovecote so that the pigeon can cool down. If there are several pigeons in the cage, then you must have at least two. But if the pigeons are trained, they can be taken out and refreshed by themselves in the garden fountain, then return to the cage by themselves.

Choosing to have the cage outside is the best, but whether you are at home or outside, it is advisable to cover the floor with newspaper or something similar to help make the task of cleaning the base of the dovecote easier. .

Deciding that pigeons breed is difficult, since this will require the construction of a nest. There are many tutorials on the net, and you can even find artificial nests, but it is beter to give the pigeons everything they need inside the dovecote so that they can place it themselves. To make the task easier, inside the dovecote there should be a few bricks up, since there will be where they will place their nest.

The drinking fountain must be large, installed outside the cage, and with great capacity so that the pigeon always has water . Although you will have to change the water very often, especially in summer, since pigeons do not like hot water.

Where should the dovecote be located?

Locating a bird like a pigeon can be a real headache. If you only have one, you have to place it in a quiet room where no one is going to bother you. You have to leave water and food for three weeks and go from time to time to see how it is, but without manipulating or disturbing it, because they are easily stressed by being in an unknown environment. After this time, it is possible that you can already establish a direct contact with it.

Already accustomed to being human, it is beter to place it in a room where social life is made, so that it interacts with the environment. It should be in an area where in the mornings the rays of the sun give slightly but it is also a warm area at night so that it does not cool down, because one of the main causes of death of these animals is death by freezing

At all costs you should avoid putting them near lamps or televisions, because, like most birds, the flashes that these devices give off are harmful to the eyes and this could cause the pigeon to become violent. In the case of having other animals, we must take special care that the pigeon are within reach of them. Yes, there are many pigeons that get along well with cats and dogs, but they are usually cases in which the pigeon has had contact with the animal since birth. However.

In the case of thinking about installing a dovecote on the outside, just look for an area that is neither too warm in the morning nor too cold at night. Assemble the dovecote, give iy the necessary toys so that it can entertain itself inside and ready. Avoid areas of light such as outdoor lamps or that is located near roads, because the sound of traffic can make it nervous. It is beter to opt for the back garden.

What do pigeons eat?

Many mistakenly believe that pigeons feed on bread crumbs. A bad habit created by humans when feeding these animals in the park. But the truth is that this is the last thing these birds should eat.

Domestic pigeons are usually fed with a mixture of different types of cereals, legumes and oilseeds, although they can also be given other types of food. As a general rule, pigeons eat around 30 gr. daily grain, an amount that can increase during their breeding season, both in food and water. You have to be especially careful with the amount, since pigeons tend to get fat quickly, so you have to weigh the amount of food to be just and necessary.

Like all birds, pigeons require a daily diet, in the right amount. But in the case that it can not be fed daily, it is better to manufacture a small feeding system with which the pigeon eats the right amount day after day inside the dovecote.

Keep in mind that pigeons go through many phases throughout their lives, especially if they are raised with other birds of the same species, which requires that at each moment of this is given a special food for that stage. Sometimes it is not easy, as for example in the case of chicks. The chicks are usually separated from their parents or wet nurses to has 25 days, more or less. It is here when they begin to feed on their first grains. The problem is that they are very vulnerable, so it is necessary to make them easy access to feeders and drinkers, so that they can easily find the place to feed themselves. It is possible that during the first days you have to help them to eat if you see that they do not do it by themselves, so that they learn.

Now, what kind of food do you have to give to pigeons?

Cereals: Wheat is the basic food of these birds, with a nutritional value of 76%. The grains of wheat has to be plump, giving equal their fat, having a reddish color. In times when the pigeon has a lot of wear is recommended to bet on this type of food.

Sorghum should be second on the list, with a food value of 80%. It is one of the favorite foods of pigeons. Of course we should not forget one of the foods that helps pigeons the most; the barley. With a nutritional value of 74%, this food helps them to digest and to rest the digestive system. It has to be heavy and short. It is also good to feed it with oats, with a nutritional value of 63, 50%, since its minerals help them to stay healthy, as well as being convenient for the rest periods of the birds. From time to time it is also good to feed them with a little rice for its nutritional value of 82%.

Legumes: Although legumes can not be the basis of feeding pigeons, they are necessary since they are rich in albumins, a substance that transforms and develops the muscle and feathers of pigeons. They are especially necessary during the growth of the chicks.

Beans and peas, with a nutritional value of more than 70%, are just what they need to help the evacuation especially if one realizes that the pigeon is constipated. From time to time it is good to feed the bird with one of these foods to help its digestive system function properly.

In the case of choosing the carob tree to feed the pigeon, it is necessary to choose the ones that are gray, because of their small size. Although they can also be given a little medium size. The lentils are also very good for its nutritional value of 73.6%. The best thing is that they are dark brown , as they are the ones that bring more nutrients to the body.

Oilseed: Actually, this type of food should be used as a supplement and not as a food, since excessive consumption of this can affect the liver of the pigeon. But it is important for its great nutritional value.

Among those that can be given to pigeons is hemp, rapeseed and flax, with a nutritional value of more than 30%. All these must be given in small quantities, since the pigeons do not eat them very well, despite how healthy they are for them. Consuming a lot can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea. It is also good to give them a bit of sunflower seeds, but that the grains are striated and of small size.

How should pigeon feed be distributed?

As previously stated, the feeding of the pigeons will depend on the stage of their life in which they are. If the pigeon is a newcomer, or is a pigeon, you have to mix it in a 1 kg. 25% legumes (especially peas, carob and lentils), along with 30% corn, 25% wheat, 5% barley and 15% dari. All this well mixed must be fed in the right amount (not exceeding 30% per day).

How they will also need oleaginous to stay healthy, you have to give them 5% of these with food. Once the chicks have grown a little, with 10 days, legumes can be increased to 40% of the total amount, but if it is in the process of weaning the best is that it does not exceed 25% of the total.

At the end of the summer, they will begin with the change of feather, their diet should be composed of 25% of legumes (especially beans and peas) with 65% of cereals (corresponding 30% to corn, 25% to wheat and a 10% of root) and 10% of oleaginous ones like the sunflower.

But when the winter is over, what is the end of your molt, your diet should be composed of 10% legumes, 80% cereals and 10% oilseeds. At this time of the year it is beter to feed them once a day.

What other foods can you give to pigeons?

It is true that it is not advisable to give food to pigeons as bread, but there is another series of meals that are very good for pigeons, for their nutrients and minerals.

One of these is vegetables. In their natural state pigeons are granivorous, but they also eat vegetables. In this case its feeding is based on leaves, tender stems and some flore that start with its beak. When you have them in captivity, you should give them at least once a week some tender vegetables that are previously minced. The most normal thing is to feed them with lettuce or grated carrots, because they are the easiest to digest. In addition, they help to prevent worms and weakening of the eyes.

Garlic, which has always been considered a food with multiple benefits for the body, is also very good for pigeons. Thanks to its high content of sodium, sulfur and ether helps prevent heart problems, lung, blood pressure and fight against parasites. That is, you just have to give them a clove of garlic, well chopped, a week. At the most two.

Lemon, which is not usually recommended for many birds, if it is for pigeons. Especially you have to supply it when the pigeon is sick, since the vitamin C that it contains helps them to fight fatigue, cooling down or fighting some disease. It is beter to squeeze the lemon in the water for the pigeons to drink it.

Honey ends this list of foods attached to pigeons. It is one of the most effective remedies to help treat diseases in pigeons, especially when they suffer from bronchial or throat problems. It is a food that should be given to pigeons throughout the year, in small quantities, especially during the molting season so that their feathers look bright.

The diseases of pigeons

That the pigeon gets sick does not mean that you are poor caregiver, since some may has a hereditary disease or have “caught” by a virus. The most common pigeons can have are:

  • Paramyxovirus: It is a virus that infects pigeons. One of the main symptoms is that pigeons drink a lot of water, while they eat very little. Their excrements are watery and with time the wings and legs are paralyzed. They usually walk backwards and present blindness. It is a deadly infection for pigeons.
  • Salmonellosis: It is also known as paratyphosis. The pigeon suffers a bowel infection, although other organs such as the liver or kidneys are also affected. It especially affects newborn chicks that suffer from delayed growth or thinning.
  • Trichomoniasis: Due to this disease pigeons lose their vitality, having little desire to fly. Their excrements are watery and their throats are red. It is a disease that can affect both adult pigeons and chicks. In the case of the latter, an obligous infection is detected in which abscesses are formed that can spread to their internal organs.
  • Ascaridiosis: During the disease the pigeons can present ejections of different consistency. The appetite at the beginning of the disease will increase, but it will descend progressively due to the worms that it will has inside. So you have to help it expel them.
  • Smallpox: The symptoms that a pigeon can suffer from the disease will depend on the way it is presented. If it is in the “quadriplegic” form, smallpox is developed by the passage of the outer skin to the mucosa in the area of the eyes and the beak, but it can also occur in the legs. It is necessary to avoid at all costs remove these smallpox.
  • Contagious rhinitis: The plume begins to sneeze and suffer the spill of a nasal fluid that in more serious cases can be viscous and yellow-brown. Little by little you will lose your appetite and the desire to drink water. It will not change the feathers and will not fly. In addition, the pigeon will scratch its head and nose, keeping its beak open. If the disease is advanced, its deposits will have a whitish color.

Is it advisable to leave the pigeon loose around the house?

Deciding whether to let the pigeon loose or not around the house is an important decision. They are very scary birds, and although they has become accustomed to being related to people, they may not be very good at moving around the home.

Due to its large size it is not as easy as letting loose a budgie or other small bird. it may feel overwhelmed by not having enough space in which to move its wings through the room. If it is going to be removed, it is better that it be from the outside, but with a small cord that binds it to its owner so that it does not escape, since at the beginning it is possible that it tries to escape.

Winning the trust of pigeons is a matter of time, so you have to be very patient.

Paint and put a ring to the pigeon?

Generally, the painting on the feathers of the pigeons is a symbol that the pigeons have participated in some competition, although there are many owners who decide to paint them a little so that they can be distinguished from the others, because they decide that it leaves them at liberty to throughout the day to relate to other birds and thus exercise. It is a good idea if you choose to let it fly free through the city or the countryside.

Now there’s the next part: the ring. The ring is usually used to identify pigeons by a number, but it can also serve to inform that they have an owner. You have to rinse the pigeon when they are chicks, between 6 and 8 days of life. To do this, the three front fingers must be joined, they are inserted inside the mouth of the ring, and it is gently passed without damaging the leg of the animal. The pigeon will already grow with the ring on its leg and will barely pay attention to it.

The rings can be a symbol of recognition of pigeons very useful for more novices who have decided to have several at home. As a general rule, the ring information has the identification of the breeder and the year of birth of the same, but buying different colors you can differentiate the males from the females or decide which will be to make competition, for breeding or to have simply in captivity.

What are the steps to follow to train a pigeon?

Training a pigeon is not impossible, but it does require constant work. Especially if what you are looking for is that you participate in competitions.

To start the training you have to wait for the moult of the first primary wing feather. With this, you can start the training. The first thing is to fly for a kilometer, accompanied by another pigeon that has already flown previously. You have to repeat this process several times until you can do it alone.

Completed the first step of your training, it is time to double the distance, up to two kilometers. Although it is already used to flying alone, it is good to accompany her with another pigeon, or group of pigeons. With the third time, you have to increase the distance to 5 kilometers, again being able to go alone or accompanied. In this way, you must increase the amount of distance, always twice the previous one, until you can travel 100 kilometers.

The number of times you travel the same distance is according to the criteria of your trainer. Some pigeons learn fast and do not need to repeat the same distance several times. But when they are long distances, it is beter that they get used little by little, and especially that the first time they are accompanied so that they has a guide on the route.


Is there something to succeed? According to experts in the field, a series of requirements must be met:

One month before starting training, the pigeon must have started flying in the dovcotee, about 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes in the afternoon, without stopping.

Subsequently, within 15 days of completing the month of this exercise you must increase the flight time to 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon.

Having already become accustomed to this time of flight, it is when the dovecote must be opened for the pigeons to fly. You have to feed them when they return.

The best times to release the pigeons is in the morning, at 7 in the morning, while in the afternoon it is best to be around four in the afternoon. The hours can be varied, but they are the best moments of the day so that they can go out to fly.

breeding the pigeons, what is there to know?

Although the best thing for two pigeons to mate and have offspring is to leave them at their own free will, if you want to “manipulate” the process a bit, there are certain tricks that can be used.

The first of all is to choose a male and a female that have no defects that could worsen the breed. You have to check that they are well dewormed with Vermidel S for their interior and with negubon for the interior. Also give 1/8 of Decuazol tablet. Once ready, they should be introduced in a separate cage when they show signs of mating, such as the male running after the female or both caressing each other.

You have to prepare a nest for the male to be placed in it, and another for the female. When the first signs of “heat” appear, the female must be placed in the male’s nest. If it has been successful, after 8 days of mating, they will put the first egg.

The pigeon will be born at 18 days, and it is time to start working with it. Once it is 8 days old it must be ringed, to differentiate it from the rest. Once the 22 days are over, you have to start lowering it on the ground in the morning and return it to the nest in the afternoon. From 23/24 days, the pigeon must learn to eat only from the feeder, with a little help from his breeder, because he may continue to look for his mother to feed. That same day it is good to upload it to the roof of the loft  so that it know everything that surrounds you.

With 25 days it is time to separate it from the parents’ dovecote and put it in the cage of the chicks, where it will be during the day. In the afternoon it must be returned to the dovecote of its parents, so that they help him feed. But if the animal is already able to feed itself, it can be definitively transferred to the loft.

Between 30 and 35 days of life the pigeon must be able to leave by itself through the window of the dovecote and return when it wants . More or less is here when you have to start evaluating the training of this bird.