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Are pigeons friendly?

Are pigeons friendly?

Quick Answer

Pigeons are generally quite friendly and docile birds. When approached respectfully, pigeons will often allow people to get quite close and may even eat out of an outstretched hand. However, like any wild animal, pigeons can become aggressive if they feel threatened. Overall, pigeons are accustomed to human environments and interactions. With proper care and caution, pigeons can make for friendly encounters in urban settings.

Pigeon Behavior Around Humans

Pigeons are highly adaptable birds that thrive living alongside humans in urban environments. As a species, the pigeon has become well-accustomed to the presence of people and manmade structures over centuries of exposure. This means pigeons tend to be more trusting of humans than other types of wild birds.

When pigeons are treated kindly, they will often reciprocate friendliness. Pigeons are social creatures that can form bonds with specific people who regularly feed or interact gently with them. Such pigeons may allow a familiar human to approach closely or even eat directly from the hand. This type of friendly behavior shows that pigeons are capable of recognizing individual people apart from the general human population.

However, pigeons still have wild instincts and can become defensive if they feel threatened. Quick movements, loud noises, or attempts to touch a pigeon against its will can frighten the bird. Pigeons may retreat, slap with their wings, or even peck in response to perceived aggression. Therefore, the friendliness of pigeons depends greatly on human behavior.

Feeding Pigeons

One of the best ways to get pigeons to view you as a friend rather than a threat is by feeding them. Offering pigeons seed, grain, lettuce, peas, or other food items helps the birds associate your presence with a reward. With regular feeding, the pigeons will come to know and trust you.

When feeding pigeons, it is important to move slowly and allow the birds to eat from your hand at their own pace. Let the bravest pigeons approach first while others observe. With time, more wary individuals will become accustomed to this routine and overcome their fear. Soon you may be surrounded by a flock of friendly, eager pigeons looking for their next meal.

Feeding pigeons helps creates bonds between the birds and their human feeders. The pigeons exhibit friendliness motivated by the expectation of food. Nonetheless, genuine affection can develop on both sides with consistent positive interactions.

Interacting With Nesting Pigeons

Pigeons frequently nest on manmade architecture like building ledges, awnings, eaves, and crevices. When pigeons have an active nest with eggs or hatchlings, they become defensive of the nest site. However, parent pigeons will usually tolerate quiet, respectful observation of their nests from a reasonable distance.

To show good intentions, move slowly and avoid making direct eye contact with nesting pigeons. Do not touch or disturb the nest structure or its contents. Give nesting pigeons adequate space. With these precautions, nesting pigeon parents will recognize you do not mean harm and will continue their natural parenting behaviors.

You can even curry favor with nesting pigeons by providing bird seed at a distance from the nest. The parent birds will appreciate the free food source located conveniently close to their nest. This can further reinforce your status as a pigeon-friendly figure. Just take care not to leave food extremely near the nest, as this could attract predators.

Danger Signs From Pigeons

Most pigeons aim to avoid conflict if given a choice. But pigeons will defend themselves, their young, their nests, or food resources if they feel sufficiently threatened. Here are some behaviors that indicate a pigeon sees you as a danger to steer clear of:

– Hissing or growling noises
– Feathers ruffled up to appear larger
– Open beak pointed towards you
– Lunging motions with beak or wings
– Chasing motions on foot or wing
– Pecking with beak
– Slap of the wing against you

These behaviors signal you are too close or acting too aggressively for the pigeon’s comfort. The pigeon is going into defensive mode and perceives you as an enemy. Immediately back away to a more respectful distance and cease any actions that upset the pigeon. This will allow the pigeon to calm down and return to a friendly demeanor once the perceived threat has passed.

Urban Flocks

In cities, pigeons often gather in large groups called flocks. These flocks congregate at locations with abundant food sources, such as parks, plazas, sidewalks and streets littered with food scraps, and around restaurant outdoor seating.

Urban flocks tend to become highly accustomed to human presence since they exist in such close proximity. The pigeons go about their business foraging, socializing, and resting while paying little mind to all the people walking among them. These flocks provide great opportunities to observe pigeon behavior up close.

When approaching a flock, advance with calm and steady movements. Sudden disruptions will frighten the entire flock into flight. Toss some birdseed and see if any intrepid pigeons will come eat while you stand quietly. With time and consistency, the boldest individuals may allow you to get remarkably near. Flock pigeons that become used to your visits will help teach newcomers over time that you are a friend rather than foe.

Helping Injured Pigeons

Pigeons living in the hazardous urban landscape face many threats of injury, from collisions with vehicles or windows to accidents like getting stuck in netting or choking on litter. As a pigeon friend, you can provide aid to any injured birds you come across.

Carefully capture the hurt pigeon in a towel to avoid stress and further injury. Transfer it to a ventilated box or carrier. Provide a quiet, sheltered space away from other animals or commotion while you contact a wildlife rehabilitation center. Licensed rehabilitators have the proper training and resources to nurse the pigeon back to health and arrange for its release once recovered.

Your compassionate assistance earns goodwill from both the pigeon and karma. Helping injured pigeons shows you view them as fellow beings deserving of care, not just pests. This sends a powerful message that you are a true pigeon ally.

Risks of Feeding Pigeons

Feeding pigeons does promote goodwill from the birds and provides much-needed sustenance to supplement the limited urban food supply. However, offering pigeons food also carries certain risks that any responsible pigeon friend should consider:

Risk Description
Health hazards Pigeon droppings may harbor disease-causing organisms. Feed touching contaminated surfaces risks spreading infection. Only place food directly into pigeon beaks.
Attracting rats Excess birdseed attracts rats to feed at night. Pick up leftover seed promptly.
Messiness Pigeons scatter and spill feed. Sweep up under roosting/feeding areas.
Aggressive behavior Competition for food may increase pigeon aggression. Ensure ample space when feeding flocks.
Predator attraction Gatherings of well-fed pigeons can attract hawks, cats, and other predators. Stay alert and scare off predators that appear.

With smart precautions and management, these hazards can be minimized. The benefits of bonding with pigeons through feeding typically outweigh the risks.

Pigeon-Friendly Architecture

One constructive way to aid urban pigeons is by providing them with manmade roosting and nesting spaces tailored for their needs. Here are some pigeon-friendly architectural features you can incorporate:

Feature Description
Ledges Flat ledges at least 2 inches deep give pigeons a secure roosting spot.
Cubby holes Cubbies at least 6 inches tall and deep make safe nesting cavities.
Box shelters Covered boxes offer weather protection; leave one side open for entry.
Netting Crisscross wire below favored roosts to catch fallen feathers and droppings.
Sloping Downward sloping surfaces deter roosting where unwanted.

Incorporating such architectural features provides pigeons with suitable habitats where their presence is welcome. Show them you care by giving pigeons a place to call home amid the concrete jungle.

A Note on Pigeon Deterrence

Deterring pigeons using hazards or blunt force is inhumane and damages relations beyond repair. If pigeons must be discouraged from an area, use gentle exclusion methods instead:

– Install slope, spike, or wire devices to prevent roosting only where absolutely necessary.

– Apply non-toxic repellent gels to undesirable surfaces. Reapply regularly as needed.

– Use motion-activated sprinklers or sounds to startle pigeons away without harm.

– Block access to indoor areas with netting or remove nest materials outdoors.

– Remove food sources and standing water in unwanted locations.

With patience and persistence, such tactics can successfully convince pigeons to relocate without causing them harm. Avoid poisoning, trapping, or using sharp spikes which inflict suffering. Together we can find ways for pigeons and people to amiably coexist.


Pigeons and humans share a long history of close interaction. Where their interests overlap, mutual bonds of trust and enjoyment can form between pigeons and their human companions. We must overcome outdated biases that label pigeons as filthy pests and instead treat them with compassion.

By learning pigeon behavior and proper interaction techniques, these intelligent birds can become our urban-dwelling friends. With care, respect and open hearts, remarkable friendships between humans and pigeons are entirely possible.