Baby Pigeon Food | Here is what to Feed them!

Newborn pigeons, or squabs, are initially fed regurgitated crop milk, a secretion of the crop lining that contains a high amount of proteins and fats. This is provided by both parent birds for the first four days and then supplemented with seeds for the next 5 days.

By about nine days after hatching, the squabs will be fed an adult meal consisting of fruits, seeds, and occasional invertebrates. The food quantity given to the young birds increases daily, especially when seeds or grains are included.

During the first week, both parents must feed the newborns, but after that, one adult can typically feed two squabs. After one week, the squabs can start eating a wider variety of foods alongside their crop milk. Only by the third week do baby pigeons no longer require crop milk and can fully transition to adult pigeon food, adapting to their metabolism.

Baby Pigeon Food Here is what to Feed them

What to Feed a Starving Baby Pigeon?

Pigeon parents take care of their young until they are ready to leave the nest and start flying on their own. During this time, the parents must provide enough food for their babies so that they can grow and develop properly.

1. Look for newborn birds formula:

  • Nutribird A21 or Kaytee Extract are popular formulae that can be purchased from pet stores or online.
  • These can be mixed with warm water until it looks like skim milk in the first days, and then made thicker like ketchup after 10 days.
  • Contact your local wildlife rehabilitation team for assistance if the bird is of a wild species.

2. Use non-dairy milk (Macadamia milk preferred):

  • If you can’t find baby bird formula, you can make your food using non-dairy substitutes like Macadamia milk and other ingredients such as chicken baby food, boiled egg yolk, low-fat yogurt, and vitamin supplements.
  • Add a bit of digestive enzymes to the food for the first 3 days and transition to seeds, grains, and pigeon foods from the second week.

3. Use infant cereal without milk powder:

  • If you are in a hurry and the baby is already three to four days old, you can use dairy-free baby cereal mixed with warm water until it reaches skim milk consistency.
  • Puppy biscuits can also be an alternative but must be soaked in warm water until soft.

Remember to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation facility if you believe there is a problem with the baby pigeon.

Feeding Commercial Formulas to Baby Pigeons:

When caring for baby pigeons, it is important to provide them with the proper nutrition they need for healthy growth. Commercial formulas designed for birds are readily available in the market, providing the essential balance of water, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. These formulas can be easily mixed with water at home and fed to the baby pigeons according to the directions on the jar.

However, if commercial products are not accessible or affordable, you can also feed baby pigeons with household items. It is possible to create a balanced diet for them using ingredients available at home. This may include a mixture of grains, seeds, and cooked legumes, along with small amounts of fruits and vegetables. It’s important to research and understand the specific dietary needs of baby pigeons to ensure that they receive the proper nutrients for their growth and development.

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How to feed newborn pigeons:

Newborn pigeons, or squabs, are initially fed regurgitated crop milk that is provided by both of the parent birds for the first four days.

1. Provide Warmth:

Place the baby pigeon in a box near a 40-watt desk bulb or use a low-temperature heating pad wrapped in a towel.

2. Prepare the Feeding Tool:

Use a syringe with no needle and cover the broad end with a self-adhering bandage or dental rubber dam. Make a hole big enough for the baby’s beak.

3. Feeding Process:

Use the syringe to gently feed warm porridge into the baby’s beak, directing it towards their crop. Or use a baby bottle with a cut teat for feeding.

4. Monitoring:

Keep an eye on the baby’s crop to ensure it has consumed enough food, but do not overfeed as it can cause serious damage.

5. Emptying the Crop:

Let the crop empty completely every 24 hours. If the crop does not empty after 24 hours, seek veterinary assistance as it may be a sign of a digestive issue.

How do Feed Baby Pigeons by hand?

To feed baby pigeons by hand, the syringe method is suitable for liquid food. Remove the syringe needle, tie a rubber band on the wide end, and make a hole for the baby pigeon’s beak. The baby will drink the food as it would from a parent’s mouth. The syringe has a scale for measuring the amount of food.

An alternative method is using an egg cup, filled with food and tilted slightly for the pigeon to dip its beak into. If the food is solid, such as balls, gently pop them into the baby pigeon’s mouth one by one. This method allows for easy feeding and ensures the baby pigeons receive the necessary nourishment.

How often should you feed baby pigeons?

To know when to feed a baby pigeon, you need to check its crop, which is the organ used for storing food. The crop is located between the throat and stomach. Gently touch and feel the area from the outside. If the crop is flat, it’s time to feed the baby. If it is not completely flat, do not feed the pigeon.

Keep checking the crop until it swells like a balloon, which means the baby is full. Do not overfeed it. This method allows you to determine when the baby pigeon is hungry and needs to be fed, ensuring that it is fed on time without overfeeding.

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When Can Baby Pigeons Feed Themselves?

Baby pigeons can start feeding themselves at around 20-25 days old. To train them, you can place their food bowl where older pigeons eat. The baby pigeon will observe and mimic the feeding behavior of the older pigeons, and by doing so, it will learn to feed itself. It’s important to note that the development timeline can vary for each bird, so some may take longer to learn than others.

However, with patience and care, they will eventually become self-sufficient. If you find that you are unable to handle the training process, you can always seek assistance from the wildlife department, as they are equipped to take care of baby pigeons.

Feeding Pigeons Fruits and Vegetables:

To feed baby pigeons fruits and vegetables, start by rinsing the produce to remove any chemicals. It is not necessary to peel them. Then, chop the veggies, greens, and fruits into small pieces for easy consumption. Treat the baby pigeon like a child by placing the fruits and veggies separately to see which portion it consumes more of.

Based on this, plan the next diet accordingly. This allows you to tailor the pigeon’s diet to its preferences and ensure it gets the nutrients it needs. By following these steps, you can provide a balanced and healthy diet for your baby pigeon at home.

Can baby pigeons eat bread?

Yes, baby pigeons can eat bread as an alternative to fruits and vegetables when nothing else is available. If you have bread or bread crumbs, you can soak them in hot water until they soften and form a soft mixture. After leaving the mixture for half an hour, blend it and filter it with a sieve to remove any lumps and create a homogenous mixture.

It’s important to note that bread does not provide all the necessary nutrition for baby pigeons, so it should only be used as a last resort. It is not recommended to consistently feed baby pigeons with bread, as it does not have all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development.

FAQs

What is crop milk?

Crop milk, also known as pigeon milk, is a high-fat and high-protein secretion from the lining of the crop, a compartment where birds can store food before digestion.

What do pigeon eggs look like?

Pigeon eggs are small, white, and have an average length of 38.4mm, width of 28.6mm, and weight of 14.6g, with an eggshell thickness of about 0.18mm.

How long do pigeon eggs take to hatch?

Pigeon eggs hatch between 16 and 19 days after being laid. Hatching takes approximately 24 hours to complete, with parents removing empty eggshells from the nest.

How do pigeons feed their babies?

Adults feed babies crop milk, seeds, or other parts of their diet between 3 and 4 times a day, and squabs receive the same amount of food each day.

When can baby pigeons fly?

Baby pigeons can fly at around 6 weeks of age, but they start practicing and learning to fly at 4 weeks.

How long are baby pigeons in the nest?

The time spent in the nest varies by season, typically between 25 and 32 days in summer but potentially up to 45 days in winter. After fledging, they spend a few days foraging on the ground before being fully capable of flying.

Where do Pigeons Nest?

Pigeons usually nest on ledges under cover in a wide range of locations, including caves, coastal cliffs, gutters, houses, barns, outbuildings, and occasionally in holes in trees. The main requirement is a flat surface in a covered area. Males usually pick the site for the nest, and once found, females will sit on this site while the male collects materials to build the nest.

Do Pigeons Reuse Nests?

Pigeons often reuse old nesting sites and will generally build new nests on top of the old ones due to the accumulation of fecal matter on the old nest. Because of this, old nests can be quite large, weighing more than 2kg and with deep cups of up to 8cm.

How Long Do Baby Pigeons Stay with their Parents?

Once fledged, baby pigeons will usually spend between 1 and 2 weeks in the vicinity of their parental home.

What to Do if You Find a Baby Pigeon?

If the pigeon appears to be injured or not at the fledgling stage, consider contacting your local bird or wildlife rescue for advice. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to monitor the fledging from afar and keep pets away. The parents are usually nearby and watching.

Do Pigeons Mate for Life?

Yes, pigeons mate for life and are monogamous. If their partner dies, they will often find a new partner, although this may take some time.

Can Baby Pigeons Survive Without Their Mother?

Yes, baby pigeons can survive with just their dads, as both parents are involved in raising the babies. This means the male bird is just as capable of raising the young, although it is a harder job for the adult.

Conclusion:

Feeding baby pigeons is a delicate task, but with the right knowledge and care, you can ensure their healthy growth and development. Remember to provide a balanced diet, including a mix of grains, seeds, and vegetables, and always consult a veterinarian for guidance.

By nourishing these little birds, you’re not just helping them thrive, but also fostering a deeper connection with nature. So go ahead and embrace the joy of feeding and nurturing these adorable baby pigeons!

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of pigeonsmatter.com. I have kept pigeons as pets for over 20 years and have written several articles. Here in this blog, I cover topics such as how to care for pigeons, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.