Why Do Pigeons Fly In Circles?

Pigeons fly in circles for several reasons. They do this to orient themselves and find their way home. Flying in a circle allows them to see their surroundings from all angles, helping them to figure out where they are and where they need to go.

Additionally, flying in circles allows pigeons to sense the earth’s magnetic field and smell the many odors in the air, helping them locate the scent native to their home. Another reason for this behavior is to discourage raptors from preying on them.

Why Do Pigeons Fly In Circles

Common Reasons for Pigeons to Fly in Circle :

Pigeons are known for their graceful flight, but sometimes they may be observed flying in circular patterns for various reasons. This behavior can be perplexing to witness, but there are common explanations for why pigeons fly in circles.

1. Avoiding Predators:

  • Birds, including pigeons, fly in circles to avoid raptors or predators like eagles and hawks.
  • Flying in flocks makes it difficult for predators to target a specific bird, increasing the safety of the group.

2. Grouping and Navigation:

  • Pigeons fly in circles to regroup with their flock before deciding on the direction and destination to fly together.
  • This behavior also helps young pigeons learn to navigate using the earth’s magnetic fields and their sense of smell.

3. Sense of Smell:

  • Pigeons can detect subtle odors given off by the earth, helping them navigate and find their way back home.
  • The ability to detect environmental smells in the wind helps pigeons locate the odor that reminds them of home.

4. Magnetic Fields:

  • Pigeons can sense and use the Earth’s magnetic fields for navigation.
  • They can detect and differentiate the magnetic frequencies, potentially using circling behavior to reinforce the frequency of their home ground.
  • Over long distances, pigeons mark the differences in magnetic fields.

5. To stay in the thermal pool:

  • Pigeons fly in circles to stay in thermals, which helps them elevate and use less energy during flight.

6. To find the earth’s magnetic fields:

  • Pigeons can detect the earth’s magnetic fields with magnetoreceptors in their upper beaks and use this information to fly in perfect circles over long distances.
  • This sense of direction works best at dawn and dusk when the light is dim.
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7. To save energy:

  • Flying upwards is difficult for pigeons, so flying in circles allows them to use updrafts to gain height and soar effortlessly.
  • Circling can also encourage more birds to join and save energy together.

8. Orientation:

  • Pigeons have great memories and can recognize objects and people.
  • They circle to imprint their area of departure on their minds and map the area with important landmarks.
  • Circling helps them recognize their starting point and note any changes in the surrounding landscapes.

9. Collecting Food:

  • Pigeons eat insects, seeds, fruits, berries, rice, and vegetables.
  • Urban pigeons fly together to collect food, hunting invisible insects and using their speed to their advantage.

10. Escaping Predators:

  • Pigeons fly in circular patterns and whirl around to make it difficult for predatory birds to choose a target.
  • This evasive flying technique allows them to escape from predators by making it harder to focus on one pigeon.

11. Exercise and Training:

  • Pigeons also fly in rotations to exercise together and teach their young ones.

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Why Do Pigeons Fly in Circles at Sunset?

Pigeons fly in circles at sunset to take advantage of the thermal energy generated by the warm air near the ground. This thermal energy creates updrafts, which are upward-moving currents of air, allowing the pigeons to stay aloft without expending too much energy.

As the air near the ground stays warmer during sunset, it generates heat and updrafts, providing the pigeons with the rising force they need to fly long distances. This natural phenomenon is formed from morning to evening, with the surface-level air temperature rising with the sunrise and the molecules of thin air near the ground moving in an upward direction.

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Urban pigeons use this thermal energy to fly long distances, and during sunset, they can be seen flying in circles to take advantage of the rising force of the warm air.

Have you ever wondered why pigeons fly in circles?

Pigeons fly in circles because they use visual landmarks to orient themselves. These could be objects in the environment such as the sun, buildings, trees, power lines, or even people.

By flying in circles, pigeons are using these landmarks to help them know where they are and where they are going. For example, when pigeons fly in circles around buildings, they are using the buildings as landmarks to orient themselves.

The sun is also a common landmark that pigeons use because it is always in the same place in the sky. So, when you see a pigeon flying in circles, it’s simply using a visual landmark to help it navigate and stay on track.

Does Every Pigeon Fly In Circles?

No, not every pigeon flies in circles. Pigeons are known to fly in V-shaped formations, which is more aerodynamic and efficient. This formation allows each bird to take advantage of the upwash from the bird in front of it, giving them a lift.

The idea that pigeons only fly in circles when they are trying to mate or when they are lost is a common misconception. In reality, pigeons exhibit a range of flying behaviors, including flying in V-shaped formations to conserve energy during long flights.

So, while some pigeons may fly in circles for specific reasons, it is not accurate to say that every pigeon exhibits this behavior.


Why Do Pigeons Keep Circling?

Pigeons keep circling on updrafts, which are upward currents of hot air. They do this to conserve energy and look for an updraft that will take them very high, especially homing pigeons trying to get back to their home.

Why do pigeons fly in groups?

Pigeons fly in groups for protection from birds like eagles, hawks, crows, and owls, who frequently attack them. Flying in groups provides them with support and safety from outsiders. They also enjoy staying connected while flying.

Why do pigeons suddenly fly away?

Pigeons may suddenly fly away for migration, although this is not a common occurrence. They might not feel safe or find a better home, and in that case, they will migrate with their flock.

What is it Called When Pigeons Fly in a Circle?

When pigeons fly in a circle to create different patterns, it is called a murmuration. This behavior is used to attract more pigeons to fly together.

How Do Pigeons Manage To Fly In Circles?

Pigeons are able to fly in circles by banking their bodies to the side in order to turn. They have specially adapted wings that allow for this type of flight.

Do pigeons fly in formation?

Pigeons usually fly in a flock, which can look like circles. The size of the flock can vary from as few as 20 birds to thousands of birds.

What Benefit Do Pigeons Get From Flying In Circles?

Pigeons use a technique called “flocking” to fly in circles, which conserves energy. When birds fly in a flock, they take turns flying in the front, creating a draft for the birds flying behind and allowing them to save energy.

What is the reason behind why pigeons fly in circles?

Pigeons fly in circles because they are looking for a place to land.


There are a few reasons why pigeons fly in circles. One reason could be that they are trying to find their way back to their home. Another reason could be that they are chasing other pigeons or trying to avoid being chased. Pigeons also might fly in circles because they are following a leader.

I hope this answers your question. If you have any further questions, please let me know in the comments section below.

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.