How Long Do Pigeons Live in the Wild and Captivity?

Pigeons are common birds found in cities and towns all over the world. They are often seen perched on buildings, statues, and public spaces. But have you ever wondered how long these birds live?

The lifespan of a pigeon can vary depending on several factors, including its environment, diet, and genetics. Pigeons typically have a lifespan of up to 5 years in their natural habitat, although, in captivity, some have been recorded to live as long as 15 years.

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that can influence the lifespan of a pigeon, as well as the average lifespan of different types of pigeons. Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or just curious about these common city-dwellers, read on to learn more about how long pigeons can live.

How Long Do Pigeons Live in the Wild and in Captivity

What is the Average Lifespan of a Pigeon?

If you’re wondering how long a pigeon typically lives, the answer is that wild pigeons generally live between 3-5 years. However, domesticated pigeons have a longer lifespan and can live up to 15 years. Several factors can affect a pigeon’s lifespan, including natural predators like the peregrine falcon and sparrowhawk, as well as human interference with their habitat.

Interestingly, the oldest recorded pigeon ever was named Peace and lived to be an impressive 147 years old in pigeon time, which is equivalent to 24 years and 188 days in human time. Peace was taken in by Mrs. Whittingham after being rescued from a local center.

The Pigeon Life Cycle Explained

The life cycle of a pigeon is a fascinating process that follows a familiar pattern seen in many other bird species. From the very beginning, the pigeon’s life progresses through several distinct stages. Let’s take a closer look at the natural progression of a pigeon’s life cycle.

  1. Egg: The life cycle of a pigeon, like many other birds, starts with an egg. The eggs are laid by the mother pigeon and she will then incubate them for approximately 18 days. It is common for only two eggs to be laid due to the size of the chicks before leaving the nest.
  2. Hatchlings: When the eggs are incubated and the first signs of life start to appear, it’s time for the hatchlings! Baby pigeons, also known as squabs, hatch from their eggs after a few days without feathers and with their eyes closed. Though they may not be able to see right away, they’ll begin opening their eyes after a few hours or in just one day.
  3. Pigeon Squabs: The early stages of a pigeon’s life are called the squab stage. The squabs rely on their parents for approximately four weeks before they are capable of departing from the nest. Despite being defenseless, the mother pigeon is extra protective of her young during this stage.
  4. Adult Pigeon: Once a young pigeon has learned to fly properly, it has reached adulthood. At this stage, the pigeon will typically spend some time in the vicinity of its original nest before eventually venturing further afield. After around 7 months, the pigeon will find a mate, build a nest, and begin laying eggs. This marks the beginning of the pigeon’s reproductive cycle, as it starts to raise a family of its own.
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Types of Pigeon

Pigeons come in different types, including feral pigeons, racing pigeons, rock pigeons, and wood pigeons. Despite their differences, these birds share common traits. Their lifespan is affected by their habitat and the level of care given to them.

Feral pigeons, typically found in coastal areas, have shorter lives due to the higher risks of predation, disease, and starvation. Domestic pigeons, on the other hand, can live for more than twelve years if properly cared for. Neglecting their care can lead to a shorter lifespan. Those who take good care of their pet pigeons often develop a strong bond with their feathered friends.

Pigeon Life Cycle

Pigeons undergo a complete life cycle, which includes a metamorphosis phase. Before hatching from their white eggs, pigeons go through a worm-like phase. The incubating time for pigeon eggs is typically around twenty-eight days, and after hatching, it takes roughly an additional week for the baby pigeons to be prepared to leave their nest.

Comparing The Life Expectancies Of Different Types Of Pigeons

Have you ever wondered how long pigeons can live? It’s a common sight to see them in cities, looking weathered and worn. But don’t let their appearance fool you – the animal kingdom is full of surprises.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact lifespan for pigeons due to various factors like habitat and care, we can make estimates based on whether they are feral, pet, or racing birds. By comparing the life expectancies of different types of pigeons, we can gain a better understanding of their longevity.

How Long Do Feral Pigeons Live?

Feral pigeons have the potential to live up to 10 years with suitable habitat and good genes, but the harsh reality is that their average lifespan is only around 3-6 years. This is due to the constant danger they face living in urban environments. Pigeons often nest on building ledges and rooftops, leaving them exposed to the elements and vulnerable to predators such as cats and birds of prey.

Additionally, they are not picky eaters and may consume harmful substances, further shortening their lifespan. Overall, while feral pigeons can have a decent lifespan, their living conditions and natural predators make it difficult for them to reach their full potential.

1. City Pigeons:

Pigeons are a common sight in UK cities, where they are known to scavenge and eat almost anything. Unfortunately, this has led to many humans considering them pests. City pigeons typically have a shorter lifespan compared to their woodland counterparts due to the dangers of city life such as traffic and predators.

They also face a higher risk of disease and predation. Despite their resilience, they are still vulnerable to harm from humans who view them as pests. Living amongst high-rise buildings is no match for the safety of a woodland tree.

2. Wood Pigeons:

Wood pigeons are known for their resilience and longevity. They have a natural advantage over other birds due to their hardiness, which allows them to endure harsher conditions and find enough food and water to sustain themselves.

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The flying behavior of these creatures plays a role in their extended lifespan by promoting muscle strength over extended durations. Overall, wood pigeons are a hardy and long-lived species that can thrive in a variety of environments.

How Long Do Pet Pigeons Live?

Pet pigeons, unlike their feral counterparts, are protected from the dangers of the wild and can live longer as a result. It’s not unusual for pet pigeons to live for 9-15 years in a house, coop, loft, or cage, where they are safe from predators, extreme weather, and car accidents. They are also fed a balanced diet and receive care from their owners, which means they don’t have to struggle to find food like their wild counterparts.

However, if a pet pigeon escapes, their chances of survival decrease significantly as they lack the necessary skills to survive in the wild. It’s important to note that domestic pigeons are comfortable but live a stifled life.

If you’re considering adopting a pet pigeon, make sure to provide them with a balanced diet like Hagen Pigeon & Dove Seed to ensure they live a happy and healthy life.

How Long Do Racing Pigeons Live?

Racing pigeons have been known to live for up to 20 years, which is quite impressive. While they do receive similar care to non-athletic pigeons, they also benefit from a few additional advantages. For one, racing pigeons can be quite expensive, which means that they are typically owned by experts in pigeon care. These experienced handlers are knowledgeable about how to properly care for their birds, which can lead to longer lifespans.

Additionally, racing pigeons are bred from the strongest and healthiest birds, which means that they have good genetics and are naturally resilient. The challenge of racing can also be enriching for these intelligent creatures, and the exercise they receive during competition helps keep them healthy and fit.

Why Do You Never See Dead Pigeons?

Have you ever wondered why you never see dead pigeons lying around in the city? It’s because pigeons usually die in one of two ways – either they are killed by a predator and their body is immediately eaten, or they die from natural causes and their body decomposes quickly, especially in warm temperatures.

Additionally, if a pigeon dies from natural causes, another bird will likely eat both the flesh and bones, leaving no remains behind for us to find.

Furthermore, when pigeons feel sick, they often isolate themselves from the flock to avoid infecting other members and to increase their chances of survival if a predator comes along. This behavior also contributes to the rarity of seeing dead pigeons in public areas, despite the large number of pigeons in the city.

What Are The Main Predators Of Pigeons?

Pigeons face several predators in the wild. A major threat to pigeons is posed by owls, as they tend to prey on young pigeons who are less adept at defending themselves.

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However, other predators may attack pigeons as well, although they are not as common. These include domestic cats, certain species of snakes, and even larger birds of prey like the peregrine falcon.

How Do Pigeons Stay Safe?

Pigeons have several strategies to protect themselves from predators. They use camouflage, live in flocks, and are highly attuned to danger. Due to their exceptional eyesight, they can detect ultraviolet light, which provides a safety advantage.

The bright white coloring of the animals makes them vulnerable to predators like cats, hawks, and owls. To avoid being seen, they tend to stay away from open spaces and prefer enclosed areas with many corners where they can quickly disappear from sight.

Pigeons also conserve energy by only seeking out food and water when necessary. Due to their smaller size and lower energy requirements, these organisms are less vulnerable to predation.

Lastly, pigeons are highly aware of the danger and will alert other members of the flock by cooing or flying away to raise the alarm. By working together, they are prepared for danger and often spot predators before they have a chance to attack.

How to Extend the Life of a Pet Pigeon

As a pet owner, you want to ensure that your pet pigeon lives a long and healthy life. To achieve this, it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet that includes grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. You can even supplement their diet with boiled eggs to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

Access to fresh water is also crucial, and you can provide this through a birdbath or an open container that is cleaned and refilled regularly. While it’s okay to add minerals like calcium in controlled amounts, avoid using large amounts of any chemicals as this can be hazardous to the birds’ health.

Creating a comfortable living space for your pigeon is also important. While they don’t require much space, their living quarters should be well-ventilated and free from overcrowding. Providing shelter, particularly if they are kept indoors, can also make them feel more comfortable. Choosing a space that is out of direct sunlight is ideal.

By following these tips, you can extend the life of your pet pigeon and ensure they are happy and healthy.


Pigeons are fascinating birds that have been living among humans for centuries. While their lifespan can vary depending on various factors, including their environment and predator threats, the average lifespan of a pigeon is around 3-5 years in the wild pigeon and up to 15 years in captivity.

Understanding the lifespan of these birds can help us appreciate the time we have with them and take better care of them. With proper care and protection, pigeons can live a long and healthy life, and continue to be a beloved part of our urban and rural landscapes.

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.