30 Fascinating Pigeon Facts You’ll Want to Know

interesting facts about pigeon

Pigeons may seem like ordinary city birds, but they have some extraordinary traits that make them unique. Did you know pigeons mate for life, recognize human faces, and can fly over 100 miles per hour? Read on for 30 fascinating facts about Pigeon, these misunderstood birds!

1. Pigeons Have Excellent Memories

Pigeons can memorize and recognize individual people and objects in photographs. They even outperform primates on some intelligence tests! Their great memories help them excel at tasks and tricks.

2. Pigeons Mate for Life

Pigeons form strong pair bonds with their mates that last their whole lives. Both male and female pigeons share parenting duties like incubating eggs and feeding squabs.

3. Homing Pigeons Can Navigate Over 1300 Miles

Thanks to their ability to sense the earth’s magnetic fields, homing pigeons have amazing navigation skills. Even when transported far away, they can still find their way back home.

4. Pigeons Were Vital Messengers in War

Homing pigeons played a crucial role in carrying messages between commanders and troops in both World Wars. Their speed and navigation made them unmatched as messengers.

5. Pigeons Produce Crop Milk for Babies

Unique to pigeons and doves, both male and female adult pigeons produce “crop milk” in their throats to feed their newborn squabs. Pigeon milk contains fat and protein like mammal milk.

Pigeons facts
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6. Famous Figures Like Darwin Kept Pigeons

Historic figures like Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Darwin, and Pablo Picasso all kept pigeons and dove cotes at their homes. Darwin studied pigeons to understand evolution.

7. Pigeons Reach Speeds Over 100 MPH in Flight

With their muscular wings and streamlined bodies, pigeons are strong, swift fliers. Racing pigeons can reach speeds over 100 miles per hour.

8. Pigeons Fly at Extremely High Altitudes

Amazingly, pigeons have been spotted flying at altitudes as high as 29,525 feet above sea level. Their efficient respiratory systems allow them to thrive at such heights.

9. Pigeon Poop Isn’t as Dirty as Assumed

While pigeon droppings can harbor diseases, the health risks are relatively low. Their poop is no dirtier than many other urban wildlife species. Proper hygiene minimizes any disease transmission risk.

10. Pigeons Can Recognize Human Faces

Scientific research shows that pigeons have the ability to memorize and recognize individual human faces, even discriminating between two different photos of the same person.

11. Pigeons Were the First Domesticated Birds

Pigeons were first domesticated over 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. Humans bred them for food, carrying messages, and sport. All domestic pigeons descended from the wild Rock Pigeon.

12. Feral Pigeons Came from Escaped Breeds

The common feral pigeons living in cities descended from domestic pigeon breeds brought to North America by European settlers. Escaped domestic birds established the first feral colonies.

13. Cities Are the Perfect Habitat for Pigeons

Pigeons in the city
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Abundant food sources and nesting sites in urban infrastructure allow feral pigeon populations to thrive in cities. Pigeons are well adapted to urban living.

14. Pigeons Have Air Sacs, Not Lungs

A pigeon’s respiratory system includes 9 interconnected air sacs in place of lungs. This specialized design provides strong continuous oxygen flow ideal for powering flight.

15. Pigeons Rarely Directly Spread Disease to Humans

While pigeons can harbor diseases, most human illness historically comes from chickens and other poultry rather than pigeons. Proper hygiene practices minimize any disease transmission risks.

16. Pigeons Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Nonstop

On long-distance flights, pigeons are capable of flying hundreds of miles without needing to stop or land. They can fly at altitudes over 6,000 feet for the entire trip.

17. Pigeons Have Been Featured in Art for Centuries

Pigeons and doves appear in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and have been featured in the modern artwork of Pablo Picasso. They’re a common artistic symbol of love and peace.

18. Pigeons Can Adapt to Varied Diets

Feral pigeons have adapted well to urban living by eating a highly varied opportunistic diet of scavenged human foods, grains, seeds, insects, spiders and more. This flexibility helps them thrive.

gray and black pigeon on brown surface

19. Pigeons Hear Infrasound

Pigeons have specialized inner ear anatomy allowing them to hear infrasound below the normal range of human hearing. This helps them detect storms and seismic activity.

20. Racing Pigeons Reach 90 MPH Top Speeds

Selectively bred for speed and endurance, racing pigeons can sustain rapid flight speeds. The fastest recorded speed for a racing pigeon is 92.5 miles per hour.

21. Pigeons Inspired Art and Culture for Millennia

Pigeons and doves appear in everything from ancient Mesopotamian mosaics to Beatles songs. Pablo Picasso’s famous Dove of Peace embodied the bird’s cultural symbolism.

22. Some Pigeons are Raised for Meat

Domestic King pigeons are bred specifically for squab, the tender meat from young pigeons. Squab is considered a delicacy in French cuisine.

23. Pigeons Form Large Flocks with Hierarchies

Pigeons naturally live in large hierarchical flocks led by dominant breeding pairs. Flocks provide safety in numbers from predators.

24. War Hero Pigeons Received Medals

Thirty-two pigeons were decorated with medals, honors, and awards for their life-saving message-carrying services during World War II.

25. Pigeons Have Been Used to Smuggle Contraband

Criminals have attempted to use pigeons over the years to smuggle prohibited items like drugs, cell phones, and other contraband into prisons.

26. Carrier Pigeons Can Fly 500 Miles in a Day

Specially bred for endurance, carrier pigeons can fly approximately 500 miles in a single day at average speeds around 50 miles per hour.

27. Fancy Pigeons Come in Ornamental Breeds

There are over 800 exotic ornamental pigeon breeds called “fancy pigeons” that have been selectively bred for their colorful plumage and unique traits.

28. Pigeons Appear in Greek Mythology

Pigeons Greek Mytholoy
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In Greek mythology tales, a pigeon draws the chariot for Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Doves also symbolized romance and love in their mythology.

29. Pigeons Have Spectacular Eyesight

Research shows that, compared to humans, pigeons have near-ultraviolet vision and can detect magnetic fields. Their visual abilities likely surpass our own.

30. Pigeons Are Highly Intelligent Birds

With their exceptional memories, navigational skills, and learning capacities, pigeons are one of the most intelligent bird species in the world.

Pigeons may seem like average city birds, but they have many extraordinary traits that make them unique. With incredible intelligence, speed, endurance, and more, pigeons are fascinating creatures that deserve our appreciation. Next time you see a pigeon, think twice before shooing it away!

Ready to Learn More Pigeon Facts?

Pigeons continue to coo their way into our hearts with their captivating abilities. Do you want to discover even more intriguing traits that make pigeons amazing? Continue reading to uncover more mind-blowing facts about these talented birds!

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