Can Pigeons Swim?

Generally – no!

A pigeon cannot swim but it is not afraid of water.

For many animals, swimming is an instinct that kicks in when they get into the water. That includes many birds, but pigeons aren’t one of them.

Understanding a pigeon’s body and how it works gives you clues as to its swimming ability, or lack thereof. 

While some birds do well on the water, and indeed, thrive in a wet home, pigeons will generally stay on land where it’s dry.

If you have pet pigeons or are simply interested in learning more about them, check out this information about their water capabilities.

Look at Your Pigeon’s Feet

In general, you can assume that birds who are able to swim well will have webbed feet, much like a duck or swan.

Because a pigeon’s toes aren’t webbed, it doesn’t have that built-in ability to move through the water and stay afloat like waterfowl.

Pigeons don’t generally spend time on the water, have you ever seen a pigeon on a lake or river?

Probably not.

They simply weren’t designed for swimming and since they don’t need to be on the water to find food, you typically won’t see them there.

Pigeons, however, do like to take a bath. They can regularly be seen in domestic birdbaths, sitting in the water, cleaning their feathers. They will also do this on hot days to cool down.

Near the Water

Just because a pigeon can’t swim doesn’t mean you won’t find it near the water. In fact, pigeons may spend time in a place that’s near a water source because they do need to stay hydrated.

pigeons drinking from swimming pool

You may see a pigeon getting a drink from a river or lake, even in more urban settings.

Birds generally preen themselves and don’t take baths so you probably won’t see pigeons actually in the water very often, though it’s not entirely unheard of.

What if a Pigeon is in the Water?

Just because a pigeon doesn’t naturally seek out water doesn’t mean it won’t ever find itself in the water.

While a pigeon can’t swim in the same way a duck or goose might be able to, it won’t immediately sink in the water.

In fact, most experts say that a pigeon may be able to float for a short time if it finds itself in a lake or river.

However, without the ability to swim well, the pigeon may become tired quickly and could drown if its feathers become too heavy to fly out of the water.

Pigeons use their instincts around the water, which means you won’t often see them on the water but could see them near the water.

Water and Pet Pigeons

If you have a pet pigeon, a certain amount of their care is in your hands since they aren’t in the wild and can’t hunt for food and fly wherever they want to when they want to.

You will want to make sure your pet pigeon has a handy water source at all times so that it’s well hydrated and healthy. 

You can bathe your pigeons, though they might not like it very much, but this is more about being handled than any fear of the water.

Make sure the water is not too hot or too cold and that they aren’t completely submerged.

A pigeon will want to keep its feet planted so a few inches is plenty. Gently wash and dry your pigeon and make sure to keep it warm until it dries completely.


Dan has been fascinated with pigeons since his youth when he used to feed them breadcrumbs at the local park. With a background in SEO Dan noticed a few years ago that there were very few websites around dedicated to his favorite bird so he set out to change that by starting Pigeonpedia.

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