All About Baby Pigeons
Baby birds are adorable beyond all reason, and pigeons are no different. They’re itty bitty little puff balls but aren’t well understood by most birders. Why’s that? Baby pigeons aren’t seen nearly as often as other baby birds. So if you have pigeons in your yard and want to know more about these cute babies, we’re here to help!
How Are Baby Pigeons Born?
Baby pigeons hatch from an egg like any other bird. Both parents take turns incubating the egg for between 16-19 days. What happens during this time in the egg? The baby pigeon develops.
Eventually, the baby starts hatching from the egg. What exactly is hatching? The fully developed baby pigeon starts pecking the shell with its beak to break it apart. After about 24 hours, the baby should fully emerge from the egg: it will be quite cute and very hungry.
During this time, at least one parent stays at the nest at all times to guard the babies. The other parent is usually out gathering food for the hatchlings. After the babies are born, they’re ready to eat: the parents must then provide regurgitated food to keep them healthy (more on that later).
What Size is a Baby Pigeon?
A newly hatched baby pigeon is a thing of beauty: they’re so tiny and so cute! Just how bitty are they? A newly born baby pigeon will be only five centimeters or just under two inches. They’ll weigh just 15 grams or one-half an ounce on that first day.
However, they don’t stay small for long! Most birds grow quickly, and so do pigeons. Check this out: they gain 4-8 grams (0.12-0.28 ounces) per day! Those lil chubs. They’ll then weigh 270-350 grams (9.5-12 ounces) when they hit 30 days!
As they gain weight, they’ll start getting longer too. Their growth rate varies depending on the species. Some top out at 12 centimeters (4.7 inches), while others reach 74 centimeters (29 inches). Therefore, their growth rate will differ.
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How Can You Tell How Old a Baby Pigeon Is?
You can gauge a baby pigeon’s age in a few ways. First, check their feathers. Do they have any? If the pigeon lacks feathers, they’re probably less than a week old. Once they start getting feathers around the chest and darkening in color, they’re over a week old.
By about day 12, they’ll have many feathers, though they’ll be rather a soft and rough down. These feathers will continually develop and lighten as they age: by day 16, they’ll look almost like adult pigeons but with rather fluffier feathers. By day 30, they’ll look like adult pigeons.
However, they’ll still be a little smaller: they’re not quite fully grown yet! Though you can also gauge pigeon age by size, there are fewer milestones. They simply continue growing until about 35-40 days after hatching. By that time, they’re adults: they’ll look identical to their parents!
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What Color Are Baby Pigeons?
When newly born, baby pigeons are featherless: they’re quite a sight! Their skin is pink or dark and may have a patchy coloring of yellow throughout. Some newborns even have white feathers, though not all: typically, feathers come in as they grow and mature.
What about their beak? It’s typically pink, and their feet slate gray, giving them a rather stark appearance. Don’t worry: they’ll get cute eventually! Typically, feathers start growing as early as day five and become more pronounced as they age, turning white and gray.
As a result, they lose that rather striking pink color as they mature. By about day 15, you’re not likely to see much pink skin anymore. Actually, let’s rephrase that: they don’t lose their pink skin color. It’s just hidden by their feathers.
When Can Baby Pigeons Fly?
A baby pigeon trying to fly is one of the cutest things you’ll ever see as a bird lover. They start flapping their wings at about four weeks and even try taking off! They’re not stupid, though: they don’t jump out of the nest just yet.
Instead, they typically wait about six weeks, after which they’re pretty ready to fly. Does that mean they’re soaring through the air majestically? Not at all. Like any talent, it takes a little practice to master flying: usually about a week.
Here’s another adorable thing about pigeons: the parents aren’t afraid to get their babies to fly! They start nudging them at about six weeks to get them to move around the next. And you thought your parents were pushy, eh? It’s all out of love, of course.
How Long Does It Take A Baby Pigeon to Leave the Nest?
Baby pigeons aren’t necessarily ready to leave the nest just because they know how to fly. After all, did you move out of your parents’ the day you learned to drive? Probably not: that’s just not feasible! Like you, baby pigeons need a little more time.
That said, they usually need a lot less time than most people: most baby pigeons leave their parents’ nest within 25-45 days after birth! Summer babies leave much sooner, while winter babies need a little more time. Moving out also depends on when the baby learns to fly.
Here’s a general guide: a baby pigeon typically stays in or near their parents’ nest for 1-2 weeks after they learn to fly. They need this extra time to feel comfortable on their own. After this period, they move away and make their own home. Talk about empty nest syndrome!
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What Do Baby Pigeons Eat?
A baby pigeon’s menu isn’t exactly gourmet: they get regurgitated milk within two hours of hatching and for the first four days of their life. What does this mean? Their parents (often both) pass partially digested food into the baby’s mouth to help it grow.
Well: to each their own, we guess. After those first four days, the parents split between this milk and seeds for at least five days. That helps deepen the baby’s diet and brings in more vitamins and nutrients. By day nine, they should get seeds, fruits, and invertebrates, like bugs.
Who feeds the baby? Here’s a touching fact not many know: both! The baby’s need is simply too high for one parent to manage on their own. After about a week, one parent can feed the baby. Which parent gets stuck with this job? They typically rotate feeding duties. Now that’s what we call great co-parenting!
Why Do You Never See Baby Pigeons?
Here’s the thing about baby pigeons: you’re not likely to see them unless you go actively looking for them. That’s a bummer, but why? Well, they usually spend up to 30 days in their nest without leaving: as a result, they’re not always easy to spot unless you know where the nests are located.
There are also logistics and pigeon nesting behavior to keep in mind: simply put, pigeons love nesting very high. Why? It’s a hold-over from their ancient ancestors. That’s why pigeons thrive so well in big cities: they nest on tall buildings as if they were cliff faces!
Here’s another fun fact: there’s a chance you’ve seen a young pigeon without realizing it! That’s because the juvenile pigeon looks so close to an adult that they’re almost impossible to tell apart. Note: juvenile pigeons are not babies but not adults. Think of them as the teens of the bird world.
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What are Baby Pigeons Called?
All baby animals have cute names that tell them apart from others: simply saying “baby pigeon” is a little too basic for the scientific world. So, what do they call baby pigeons? Squabs. That’s both an adorable and funny name: it seems to describe these little babies perfectly.
Note: they’re not called squabs for very long! Typically, only pigeons too young to fly get called squabs. So, they only get this sweet name for about four weeks. What are they called after that? Well, most just call them juvenile pigeons: there’s no special name for them.
How long will they be juveniles? That depends. Typically, they’re more or less fully grown by about 30-40 days. However, pigeons still living in their parents’ nests are considered juvenile. Once they leave, they’re fully grown and mature birds.
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Should You Pick Up a Baby Pigeon That’s Fallen Out of Its Nest?
Though you’ll rarely see a baby pigeon in the wild due to their parents’ high nests, it can happen. You’ve probably heard the myth that you shouldn’t touch baby chicks because their parents will abandon them. That’s not even slightly true: but you should avoid handling them.
Why? If the chick falls out of its nest, it’s likely to be hurt. Picking it up may only hurt it more. Furthermore, the parents are likely not far away and will get upset. They may even attack you. Does that mean you should leave the baby pigeon to its own devices?
No. Instead, you should monitor the baby and keep other animals away from it. Put your dogs and cats in the house and call animal control. These professionals will decide what to do. Typically, they monitor the bird and see whether it can fly. If not, they may put it back in its nest.