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Pigeon Lifespan: How Long Do Pigeons Live?

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Pigeons get a bad rap in our modern society. Often considered a "dirty" bird that spreads disease, pigeons have long been neglected. In reality, however, these ideas could not be further from the truth.

Pigeons are actually some of the most intelligent and social birds! In fact, they have been bred to be our domestic companions for centuries. So if you want to learn more, and even wonder how long a pigeon lives, read on as we explore the lifespan of a pigeon.

pigeon crash course

pigeon in flight
The average lifespan of a pigeon is 3-5 years.


The word "dove" comes from the Latin "pipio", which means "young peeping bird". Pigeons and pigeons belong to the pigeon family. Feral pigeons can be found in coastal areas, and feral pigeons live near populated areas. They are found in nearly every habitat in the world, except the Sahara, Antarctica, and high-altitude regions of the Arctic.

What makes pigeons so fascinating is how intelligent they really are. According to the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, pigeons learn through a series of associations and responses in the brain to stimuli presented to them. This means that pigeons are able to recognize other pigeons and are able to distinguish between different objects as well as make choices and tell time. Pigeons happen to be at the top of the list when it comes to animal intelligence.

What is the average lifespan of a pigeon?

Pigeons can live up to 15 years after domestication. The oldest pigeon in history is 24 years old!

©Julie A Lynch/Shutterstock.com

On average, pigeons live 3-5 years in the wild. Domestic pigeons are known to live up to 15 years. Pigeon longevity depends on several factors, including predators and human disturbance.

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Pigeons are preyed upon by animals including peregrine falcons and sometimes sparrowhawks. Humans are also at the top of the list of predators as they threaten the natural habitat of pigeons.

The oldest pigeon ever lived is Peace, who lived to an astonishing 147 years in pigeon time. That's 24 years and 188 days of pigeon racing. Mrs Whittingham, of Wellington Road, took peace when she encountered the bird at a local rescue centre.

Pigeon Life Cycle Explained

Similar to many other birds, the pigeon's life cycle begins with several familiar stages. Let's explore the natural progression of a pigeon's life from the beginning:


Pigeons, like most other birds, begin their life as eggs. The hens will hatch on these eggs for about 18 days. Due to the size of the children, usually only two eggs are laid at a time before they leave the nest.


Once the eggs are hatched, they begin to hatch. These newborn baby pigeons are called squabs. Squabs come out of their eggs with little or no feathers and their eyes are closed. Although they are born with their eyes closed, this doesn't last long. Their eyes will start to open anywhere from a few hours to a day. In a few days, the fluffy feathers will also cover the young pigeons. However, these feathers are not enough for the pigeons to fly. During later growth, they develop stronger feathers.


Squab, small animal name for pigeon
Both parents feed the young pigeons with "crop milk".

© The Art Photographer/Shutterstock.com

The young birds will be cared for by their parents for about four weeks until they are old enough to leave the nest. They were defenseless at the moment. During this time, the pigeons cannot do much. They cannot move, hunt, fly or do anything for themselves. This is also when the mother pigeon is most protective of the nest. Once the squabs have finally grown their wings for flight, they will begin to leave the nest.

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old pigeon

Adulthood begins when pigeons learn to fly correctly. At this time, they will spend some time returning to the original nest position and staying in the local area. After about 7 months, they will move on to find a partner, mate and build a nest to lay their eggs.

How to extend the life of pet pigeons

Pigeons eat seeds on the ground
Seeds are a major part of a pigeon's diet.

©iStock.com/Ivan Murauyou

Pigeons have become a popular pet choice for many due to their intelligence, calmness and sociability. They also do well in homes with other pets. Pigeons are also capable of expressing affection like many other pets.

Since pet pigeons live much longer than wild pigeons, it is very important to take care of them properly. If you wish to prolong the life of your pet pigeons, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Cage care is crucial to a pigeon's life. Make sure to clean the bird cage daily. Keep it away from drafty areas and out of direct sunlight. Cage dimensions should be at least 2 feet high, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet long, but the bigger the better.
  • Feeding your pigeon the correct diet is important for its health. The best option is to feed your pigeons a diet consisting of commercial bird feed and chopped fresh vegetables and fruit. This is the best way to make sure they get all their vitamins and minerals.
  • Exercise is also important. If you keep your pigeons in cages indoors then you want them to fly out of the cage a lot.


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Volia Nikaci is a freelance writer and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding and marketing. She has a background in broadcast journalism and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, visiting used bookstores, and hanging out with her significant other.

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