How Many Pigeons Are In The World

From the cooing of city pigeons to the homing prowess of racing birds, there is an undeniable magic to these feathered creatures. But how many pigeons really exist in the world? It’s a question that has intrigued experts and bird lovers alike for centuries.

This article will explore the various types of pigeons, from domestic breeds to wild rock doves and feral populations. We’ll also take a look at their habitats and diets, as well as threats to their survival. So come along as we discover just how many pigeons are in the world today!

How Many Pigeons Are In The World

History of Domestication

The domestication of pigeons has a long and varied history, dating back to ancient Egypt where they were first kept in dovecotes. It was believed that these birds brought good luck and prosperity to households, leading people to keep them as pets and sources of food. The practice of taming wild birds later spread to other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia, where it was documented by Aristotle in his writings about animal behavior.

As time went on, pigeon fanciers began selectively breeding them for various traits such as size, color, or homing abilities. This led to the development of many distinct breeds that were bred for racing or show purposes. Even today there are hundreds of different varieties of fancy pigeons with unique physical characteristics that have been developed over centuries.

In addition to their use as pets and show animals, domesticated pigeons have also found a place in wartime communication practices due to their homing instinct which allows them to return home from long distances no matter what obstacles are in their way. During World War I and II they were used by Allied forces to carry messages across enemy lines which saved countless lives during times of conflict.

This is only a brief overview of the fascinating history behind domesticated pigeons but it serves as an important reminder that these birds have been treasured by humans since antiquity and still retain a special place in our hearts today.

Introduction to Pigeons and Their Worldwide Population

Pigeons are members of the Columbidae family and are related to doves. They are small birds, typically weighing up to 1 pound, with short legs and a slender body. The most common pigeon is the domestic or rock pigeon (Columba livia).

These pigeons have a gray-blue head and neck, white rump, and dark gray wings with two white bars. Other varieties include fancy pigeons bred by pigeon fanciers, feral populations that live in cities, and wild Rock Pigeons found in rocky cliffs since the 16th century.

Pigeons feed on grains, fruits, vegetables, and food waste. They also eat insects as a source of protein. Domestic pigeons often nest in flimsy nests made from twigs and feathers located on window ledges or rooftops. Wild birds nest in crevices of cliffs or buildings as well as trees.

Unfortunately, pigeons face many threats from predators such as hawks and other birds of prey to humans hunting them for sport or food. As their habitats are increasingly threatened by urbanization, it is important that we take steps to protect these beloved birds so their numbers can continue to thrive for generations to come.

Estimating the Global Pigeon Population

Estimating the global population of pigeons is incredibly difficult. Pigeon fanciers and breeders can provide an estimate of the domestic pigeon population, but because many feral populations live in urban areas, it is harder to gauge their numbers.

The best estimates suggest that there are anywhere between 200 million and 400 million pigeons in the world. Of this number, around 25 million are racing pigeons, while the rest are made up of feral, domestic, and wild birds.

Factors That Affect Pigeon Populations

The number of pigeon populations in the world can be affected by a variety of factors. The availability of food sources, as well as access to nesting sites, are two key elements that determine bird numbers. In addition, conservation efforts and public attitudes toward pigeons also play a role.

Predation can also have a significant impact on the size of pigeon populations. Raptors, cats, and other predators can reduce bird numbers, as can hunters who kill them for sport or food. Urbanization is another threat to pigeons, as it reduces available nesting sites and increases exposure to pollution and toxins.

Pigeon Population Control Efforts

It is important to manage pigeon populations because they can become a nuisance in urban areas. Overpopulation can lead to droppings that contaminate streets, gardens, and public spaces. Pigeons can also interfere with infrastructure such as power lines and buildings.

To control pigeon numbers, cities have implemented various methods including nest removal, birth control programs using contraceptives, trapping and relocation, and even euthanasia. Although these methods can be effective, it is important to ensure that animal welfare is taken into consideration. 

Overview of Different Types of Pigeons

Pigeons are a diverse family of birds that can be found in many habitats across the globe. There are several distinct species, including the feral pigeon, rock dove, and wild pigeon. Feral pigeons are descended from domesticated pigeons and live in cities, often nesting on window ledges or rooftops. Rock doves are wild cousins of domestic pigeons and inhabit rocky cliffs. Wild pigeons live in forests and woodlands where they feed on grains, fruits, vegetables, insects, and food waste. Homing pigeons have been selectively bred to return home even when released hundreds of miles away from their roosts. Urban pigeons are also commonly seen living in cities and scavenging for food sources such as scraps thrown by humans. Common pigeons can be found in both rural and urban areas with domesticated populations living in dovecotes or flimsy nests on rooftops while wild birds nest in trees or crevices of cliffs and buildings.

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Despite the diversity of pigeon species, all members of the Columbidae family face threats from predators such as hawks as well as humans hunting them for sport or food. As their habitats become increasingly threatened by urbanization it is important to take steps to protect these beloved birds so their numbers can continue to thrive for generations to come.

Domestic Pigeons

Domestic pigeons, also known as Columba livia domestica, are a domesticated form of the wild Rock Pigeon. They have been bred for centuries for various purposes and can be found in cities around the world. Their ability to return home from long distances makes them popular with pigeon fanciers and racing enthusiasts. Domesticated pigeons are often kept in dovecotes or coops where they live in flimsy nests made of twigs and grasses on rooftops or window ledges.

Pigeons provide an important source of protein to many cultures around the world. In some places, they are still hunted as part of traditional ceremonies or festivals that date back centuries to the 16th century when hunting was a popular pastime. Despite their popularity as a food source, some domesticated populations have become feral birds living in urban environments where they scavenge for scraps thrown by humans.

Domestic pigeons may also come into contact with birds of prey such as hawks who hunt them for food but this is usually avoided if there is enough suitable habitat to provide adequate protection from predators. The white rump patch at the base of their tails makes them easier to identify from a distance which helps keep them safe from hunters and other threats.

Popularity among Pigeon Fanciers

Pigeons have long enjoyed popularity among pigeon fanciers, and this is in part due to their broad range of sizes, colors, and abilities. For example, some varieties are bred specifically for racing while others are show birds that excel in competitions. The “rock dove” variety – also known as the feral pigeon – is a particularly popular breed with fanciers thanks to its attractive white rump and other striking physical traits.

The role of pigeons in wartime communication has also made them an especially beloved bird for many people around the world. This practice dates back to at least the 16th century when homing pigeons were used by armies to deliver messages across enemy lines. During World War I and II they were crucial in relaying important news from one side of the conflict to another which saved countless lives during these tumultuous times.

In addition to their historical significance, domesticated pigeons are also popular among fanciers because they can be easily kept as pets and make surprisingly good companions. They require very little space for a home or nest which means that even those living in small apartments can enjoy their company. Plus, since they feed on food waste and other sources of protein they can provide a cheap source of food for those living on a tight budget.

All in all, it’s not hard to see why pigeons have been so popular among pigeon fanciers throughout history, and why they continue to be today!

How They Differ from Wild Rock Doves

Domestic pigeons, also known as “Columba livia”, are the direct descendants of wild rock doves. While they share many physical and behavioral characteristics with their wild cousins, there are distinct differences between the two species that set them apart.

The most obvious difference is their size; domestic pigeons tend to be much larger than wild rock doves. They also have less prominent stripes on their wings and lack the white rump patch that is common among wild birds. Additionally, the feathers of a domesticated pigeon are generally softer and more brightly colored than those of a wild rock dove.

In terms of behavior, feral pigeons often congregate in large flocks while domestic pigeons can form bonds with humans and even accept them as a mate. This strong connection makes it easier for people to keep them as pets or breeders. Wild rock doves typically stick to rocky cliffs where they build small nests and feed on whatever food sources they can find. On the other hand, domestic pigeons can live in urban areas without fear of predation from birds of prey due to their larger numbers and availability of food sources.

Finally, while some fancy pigeon breeds have been developed over time by selective breeding, these domesticated birds bear little resemblance to their original wild ancestors in terms of both appearance and behavior. Therefore, it’s important to recognize that despite sharing many traits with one another, domestic pigeons still differ from their feral relatives in several significant ways.

Feral Pigeons

Feral pigeons, commonly known as “Columba livia”, are wild birds descended from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. They can be found in many urban areas around the world and have adapted to living among humans, feeding on food scraps and waste discarded by people.

Feral populations of these birds flourished in cities during the 16th century when there was a greater abundance of food waste than ever before. This has allowed them to outcompete their wild rock dove relatives for resources, leading to a population boom in some cities. In addition to providing an abundant source of protein, they also act as pollinators due to their generalist diet that consists of both plants and insects.

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While feral pigeons may not generally be considered desirable animals due to their large numbers and messiness, they remain an integral part of city ecosystems and actually play important roles in urban environments. Their presence should be recognized as more than just pests but rather as a unique species with its own set of ecological benefits.

Origin of Feral Population

Feral populations of Columba livia, commonly known as ‘rock doves’ or ‘feral pigeons’, have been present in urban areas since the 16th century. They are descended from domesticated pigeons that have returned to the wild, and they have adapted to living among people and feeding on discarded food scraps.

The abundance of food waste in cities during this time allowed them to outcompete their wild rock dove relatives for resources, leading to a population boom in some places. While their presence may not be generally considered desirable due to their large numbers and messiness, feral pigeons remain an integral part of city ecosystems and actually play important roles in urban environments.

These birds provide an abundant source of protein and act as pollinators due to their generalist diet that consists of both plants and insects. Moreover, they are also used by pigeon fanciers who train them for various sporting events. The white rump found on some feral birds is a trait inherited from domesticated pigeons that has become more common over time.

Overall, feral pigeons have adapted well to life among humans and represent a unique species with its own set of ecological benefits that should be recognized beyond just being pests.

Where Do Feral Pigeons Live?

Feral pigeons, also known as rock doves or city pigeons, are a unique species of wild birds that live in urban areas. They originated from domesticated pigeons that have since returned to the wild and adapted to life among people and their food sources. Feral pigeons are often found in cities where they can find plenty of food waste and other resources such as insects and plants.

These birds typically build their nests on ledges or window sills of buildings, bridges, and rocky cliffs. They usually construct flimsy nests made out of twigs and leaves with an opening facing downwards. Feral pigeons also must compete with other animals for resources, including competing with birds of prey for nesting spots.

Feral pigeon populations exist all over the world in urban environments but vary greatly in numbers by region. Commonly seen around cities worldwide, feral pigeons provide an abundant source of protein for animals such as hawks and falcons while also acting as pollinators due to their generalist diet that consists of both plants and insects.

What Do They Eat?

Feral pigeons, or columba livia, are wild birds that primarily inhabit urban environments. These birds have adapted to life in cities by scavenging for food waste, insects and plants. They are highly adaptive and opportunistic feeders that consume a wide variety of foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, animal carcasses and even human food. This broad diet enables them to survive in a multitude of environments with limited resources.

In addition to their opportunistic diet, feral pigeons also supplement their nutrition needs with calcium-rich items such as ground limestone or marble chips that can be found around the city or near bird baths and water fountains. These birds also take advantage of natural sources of food found in parks and gardens where they can find berries, leaves and flowers.

Overall, these birds rely on an eclectic mix of food sources that allows them to thrive in urban areas while providing valuable ecological benefits such as pollination and removal of organic debris. The adaptability and resilience of feral pigeons make them one of the most successful species living in cities worldwide.

Threats to Feral Population

Though feral pigeons are highly adaptive and able to survive in cities worldwide, they are not without their threats. One of the primary dangers for these birds is humans. In many parts of the world, pigeon populations are hunted or purposely poisoned due to competition with other birds for food or perceived “nuisance” behavior. Additionally, many urban areas substitute natural nesting sites with manmade structures that are often too small or too flimsy for a safe nest.

Birds of prey such as hawks and falcons also pose a threat to feral pigeons in urban areas. These predators use their sharp vision and agility to hunt unsuspecting victims on the rooftops of cities. Furthermore, some species have evolved unique hunting strategies like targeting the distinctive white rump of domesticated pigeons which can lead to increased mortality rates among wild populations.

To help ensure the safety of these valuable birds, it is important that people understand the need to protect their habitats and discourage any form of hunting or poisoning them. Additionally, those interested in keeping fancy pigeons should separate them from wild rock doves so as not to increase mortality rates among feral populations. By taking these steps, we can guarantee a sustainable population of urban wildlife for generations to come!

Wild Rock Doves (Rock Pigeons)

Wild rock doves, or rock pigeons (Columba livia), are a species of bird that has been present since the 16th century. They are found naturally in rocky cliffs and coastal regions, but have adapted to urban areas around the world. These birds are often seen as a nuisance due to their tendency to scavenge for food, particularly in densely populated cities.

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The wild rock dove is a versatile and hardy species that can eat almost anything, including food waste discarded by humans. As such, they have become an important source of protein in many parts of the world. Despite their status as pests in some circles, these pigeons are also admired for their beauty and homing abilities by pigeon fanciers around the world.

Their natural habitats and nesting sites have been encroached upon by human development so it is important to protect what remains of these areas. Additionally, people should discourage hunting or poisoning of these birds as it can greatly reduce their population numbers. With proper protection and management, we can ensure that wild rock doves remain an integral part of our urban environment for years to come!

Natural Habitat and Distribution

Wild rock doves, or Columba livia, are a species of bird whose natural habitat is rocky cliffs and coastal regions. These birds have adapted to urban areas around the world, but their preferred habitats are still in these more natural settings. The wild rock dove has an impressive range of distribution, spanning across Europe and Asia as well as parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

These birds often nest in small flimsy nests made from sticks and twigs located on cliff faces or other ledges of rocks. Unfortunately, due to human development many of these nesting sites have been destroyed, leaving fewer places for the wild rock dove to make its home. In addition to the loss of habitat, these birds also face threats from predators such as birds of prey or cats which can reduce their population numbers.

It is important that we protect what little natural habitat remains for this species so that it can continue to thrive in our urban environment. Additionally, we should strive to discourage hunting or poisoning of these birds so that they can maintain healthy populations throughout their range. With proper protection and management, we can ensure that wild rock doves remain a part of our urban landscape for years to come!

Homing or Racing Pigeons

Homing and Racing Pigeons are two distinct varieties of domesticated pigeons that have been bred for centuries to be used in racing events. Homing pigeons are typically bred to find their way back home from long distances while racing pigeons have been developed over the years to possess superior speed and endurance in long-distance races.

Homing pigeons can travel up to 600 miles in a single day, returning home with remarkable accuracy thanks to their incredible navigation abilities. This makes them an invaluable tool for delivering messages quickly and accurately over long distances. In fact, homing pigeons were used as far back as the 16th century by the military, who would send them on reconnaissance missions and use them to deliver important documents or messages during wartime.

Racing pigeons, on the other hand, have been bred since the 19th century specifically for racing purposes. They are typically kept in lofts where they are trained using various techniques such as releasing them at different times of the day or introducing obstacles that they must navigate around in order to return home faster. Races can range anywhere from 50-500 miles, depending on the event and conditions, and racers compete against each other by seeing which pigeon returns home first!

Breeding and Training for Long-Distance Flights

Breeding for long-distance flights requires a special selection of pigeons that possess the right physical and mental traits to make it home. These birds must be able to withstand extreme weather conditions, find food sources, and navigate their way back home no matter how far they must fly. Pigeon fanciers have developed various techniques over the years to prepare their birds for long-distance flights including training them using different time release methods or introducing obstacles to navigate around.

To ensure successful long-distance trips, pigeon fanciers need to carefully select which pigeons will be used in the race. This means selecting birds with strong wings and feet, as well as good navigation skills. They also need to be able to identify food sources along their journey as well as build safe flimsy nests for when they eventually reach their destination.

Pigeon fanciers also need to take into account any potential predators such as birds of prey that may impede the pigeons’ progress during their journey. To do this, breeders typically use birds with white rumps since they are harder for predators to spot while flying, giving the pigeons a better chance at reaching their destination safely.

Overall, breeding and training for successful long-distance flights is an art form that has been perfected by pigeon fanciers over centuries of practice and dedication. By carefully selecting the right breed of birds and preparing them properly beforehand, these amazing creatures can traverse great distances with ease!


While we may never know exactly how many pigeons are in the world, one thing is for sure: they are a ubiquitous and fascinating part of our urban landscape. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying the important role they play in our ecosystem and our cultural imagination.

So the next time you spot a flock of pigeons, take a moment to appreciate these feathered friends and all that they represent.

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.