Do Pigeons Mate for Life? Everything You Need to Know

Do pigeons mate for life? This is a question that has intrigued many bird enthusiasts and researchers alike. While some bird species do mate for life, others are known for their promiscuity and infidelity.

Pigeons, also known as rock doves, are a common sight in urban areas and are often considered pests. However, these birds have a fascinating social structure and mating behavior that is worth exploring.

In this article, we will delve into the mating habits of pigeons, whether they mate for life, and how they choose their partners.

Do Pigeons Mate for Life

Do Pigeons Mate For Life?

It is a common belief that pigeons mate for life, similar to how humans do. However, it is impossible to know for sure if pigeons have the same emotions and feelings towards their partner as humans do. Their behaviors, including cuddling, sharing food, and parenting responsibilities, demonstrate a level of concern for their partner that is comparable to human behavior.

Individuals may take a longer period of time to seek a new partner after the loss of their previous partner, but eventually, they may pursue new relationships. It is essential to be careful about projecting our feelings onto these birds. The reason why pigeons mate for life is still unclear, and it is uncertain if it is an evolutionary reason or just a quirk of the species.

Why Do Some Wood Pigeons Mate For Life?

Wood Pigeons exhibit monogamous behavior during breeding, and certain pairs may even opt for a lifelong partnership. Despite having an average lifespan of just three years, these birds reach sexual maturity between seven months to one year old.

Many Wood Pigeon couples tend to stay together for successive breeding seasons, with some remaining with the same partner for their entire lives. This is because it is more practical for them to remain with a successful breeding partner rather than risk a new, potentially inexperienced, or infertile one.

Wood Pigeons are migratory birds, but those living in the UK can be found in both rural and urban areas throughout the year, allowing successful pairs to remain in contact. If you’re interested in learning more about how Wood Pigeons find their mates, keep reading.

Pigeon Mating Habits

Pigeons are social birds that live in large flocks, making it easier for them to find a mate compared to solitary birds. They reach mating age at around six months old.

During the mating season, male pigeons engage in a courtship behavior where they approach a lone female and perform a dance involving head nods and tail shakes.

If the female bird is interested, she will nod back and move closer. If the date is successful, they will rub their beaks together in a pigeon kiss. Unlike humans, pigeons usually mate for life after they connect. They build their nest in trees or on ledges, using a mix of sticks, leaves, and feathers.

Pigeons tend to add to the nest each time they lay eggs, so the nest can expand like a home with multiple additions. A pair of pigeons can produce up to 50 offspring per year, but in reality, they usually produce 16-20 squabs per year due to weather conditions.

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Urban pigeons controlling the population of pigeons is important, as they can become a nuisance. Hawks and owls are natural predators that regulate the pigeon population in their habitats, whereas house cats are the primary predators in urban environments.

What Time Of Year Do Pigeons Mate?

Pigeons are fascinating creatures with many interesting behaviors. One of those behaviors is their mating process. Unlike some animals that only mate during certain times of the year, pigeons are able to mate whenever they please. This is because they have the ability to produce milk using a gland in their neck, which allows them to breed year-round.

It’s important to note that the milk produced by pigeons is not the same as mammalian milk, as it is a mix of natural secretions and partially digested food. On average, pigeon couples will mate between six and eight times every year, although this can vary. Baby pigeons, also known as squabs, are born as a result of these matings and are undeniably adorable.

Are Pigeons Affectionate?

Pigeons are often underestimated when it comes to their intelligence and emotional capacity. In fact, they are an incredibly affectionate bird species. If you spend time observing them, you’ll notice how they cuddle up to each other and give gentle pecks, which is their way of showing affection. The animals express affection towards each other through vocalizations, emitting cooing sounds during their greetings.

But pigeons don’t reserve their affection solely for other pigeons. It’s not uncommon for them to form close bonds with humans, particularly pigeon keepers who may develop very strong relationships with their birds. In some cases, this affection may even extend to other pets in the family. So if you’re looking for a loving and affectionate pet, don’t overlook the humble pigeon!

How Do Pigeons Mate?

Pigeons, like many other birds, mate through copulation. During this process, the female pigeon crouches down while the male mounts her and fertilizes her. The entire process typically takes only about two seconds.

What Will Happen If A Pigeon Mate Dies?

After the death of a mate, Rock or Feral pigeons are able to recognize the loss and will eventually leave their nest in search of a new partner. This process can take varying lengths of time, with some pigeons taking weeks or even months to find a new mate.

It’s worth noting that male pigeons typically move on more quickly than females. While it may not be a fast or easy process, pigeons will eventually look for a new mate after their partner has passed away.

Can Pigeons For Same-Sex Pairings?

When it comes to same-sex pairings, domestic pigeons are not known to engage in such relationships. Male pigeons display aggressive behavior towards other males, which decreases the likelihood of successful mating. This behavior is often observed in confined spaces.

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Male Rock pigeons, in particular, are territorial and will fight other males over space and female pigeons. Therefore, if you see a male mounting another male, it is likely to be a violent altercation rather than a romantic encounter. Pigeons engage in exclusively heterosexual relationships and maintain such partnerships throughout their lifetime.

What is the lifespan of a pigeon?

Pigeons can have varying lifespans, depending on a number of factors such as their species, environment, and overall health. Generally speaking, wild pigeons have an average lifespan of 3-5 years.

However, domestic or pet pigeons tend to live much longer, with an average lifespan of 10-15 years. Some have even been known to reach the age of 20, provided they are given proper care. There have also been recorded instances of pigeons living up to 30 or 40 years old.

Do Pigeons Die After Mating?

Contrary to a common misconception, pigeons do not die after mating. The typical lifespan of these birds is approximately six years, during which they are capable of producing at least 12 clutches of eggs with their breeding partner.

Pigeons are also known to mate frequently, even with multiple partners, but there is no evidence to suggest that mating itself is the cause of death in pigeons. While it is possible to find a dead pigeon after mating, there are many other factors that could contribute to its mortality.

What If One Dies?

In the world of homing pigeons, the loss of a mate is not a cause for despair. If one pigeon dies, the surviving bird will simply look for a new partner. While we may view their courtship as romantic, pigeons have no trouble finding a new mate and continuing on with their lives.

So, if you happen to see a lone pigeon, there’s no need to be concerned – they will find a new companion in due time.

When Do Pigeons Look For New Mates?

Pigeons are monogamous creatures, meaning they typically mate for life. However, there are two situations in which they may seek out new partners. The first is if their current mate passes away or is severely injured.

The second is if the pair is unable to produce offspring due to infertility. Since reproduction is a crucial aspect of nesting and mating for pigeons, they may search for new partners to mate with if they cannot successfully breed with their current mate.

Raising Young

When it comes to raising their young, pigeons are very committed parents. After mating, the female pigeon will lay one or two eggs and both parents take turns keeping the nest warm while the other searches for food. The male pigeon will even bring food back to the nest for the female while she tends to their eggs.

After 18 days of incubation, the pigeon chicks, or squabs, hatch and are completely helpless. They rely on their parents for warmth, feeding, and protection. The parents produce a special liquid called crop milk, which is produced in a pouch at the front of their necks, to feed their young. Interestingly, both male and female pigeons can produce crop milk, making it possible for them to breed year-round as long as the temperatures aren’t too cold.

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After a period of approximately five weeks, the young pigeons are sufficiently developed to depart from their nesting site and begin flying. The male pigeon will teach them important skills, such as how to find food, that they need to survive independently. Despite leaving the nest, the young pigeons will often stay close to their parents and remain a part of their flock.

Why Do Pigeons Mate For Life

Pigeons are known for their monogamous mating behavior, which is actually beneficial from an evolutionary perspective. This is because monogamy leads to more genetic diversity as both male and female pigeons get to pass on their genes. In contrast, non-monogamous animals have the strongest males mating with multiple females, which limits the passing on of beneficial mutations.

Furthermore, monogamous birds, including pigeons, tend to have lower levels of stress hormones. This is because they don’t have to worry about finding a partner since they already have one. This reduced stress can lead to better health outcomes, which is similar to the benefits of marriage in humans.

Breeding pair pigeons work together in finding food, raising their young, and defending pigeon nests nest. This cooperative behavior increases the odds of their offspring surviving adult pigeons. If one partner dies, the pigeon may take another partner, although the process is often slow as they may have a mourning period and not pursue a new partner with the same vigor as their original partner.

Do Pigeons Cheat?

Pigeons are known for pairing for life, but they do engage in extra-pair mating when their partner is not around, such as during migration or feeding. However, if a male pigeon already has a primary partner, he will not pair bond with the new mate. Female pigeons engage in extra-pair copulation with attractive males when separated from their primary partner, but this behavior is associated with potential risks.

When male birds suspect the offspring may not be theirs, they may bring less food to the nest, leading to a decrease in the amount of crop milk available for the young. So, while it may seem like cheating, it is a natural behavior for pigeons.


While pigeons are known for their loyalty and strong pair bonds, they do not necessarily mate for life. Their mating habits can vary depending on their environment, age, and other factors.

However, regardless of their mating habits, pigeons are fascinating creatures that have been a part of human history for centuries. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or just curious about the world around you, learning about these amazing birds is sure to be a rewarding experience.

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of 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.