While pigeons are granivorous birds, most types will supplement their diet with insects including ants.
Wild Pigeons vs Domesticated Pigeons
When discussing what do pigeons eat, it’s important to make the distinction between wild pigeons and domesticated pigeons.
The diet of domesticated pigeons is controlled by the birds’ owner(s) who will either make up their own food mix or buy a proprietary feed that should contain all or most of the nutrients and vitamins a pigeon needs.
Wild pigeons however have to eat what they can get.
They are opportunistic and unfussy eaters who will pick off anything they think is edible from wild food to discarded human food.
A wild pigeon’s diet will also depend on whether they live in a rural or urban environment.
A feral woodland pigeon is going to have a greater variety of insects to eat than domesticated birds.
Ants as Pigeon Food
There is nothing special about ants particularly, they aren’t something that a pigeon will seek out in favor of other more familiar and preferable foods like seeds and grains, but there is no doubt that they provide an easy to obtain treat if they are found in large numbers.
In fact, pigeons can often be found eating any number of small insects in the wild, including, but not limited to:
Ants are one of the smallest examples of the kinds of insects that a pigeon will eat, so no bird would want to rely on ants as their sole source of nutrition out in the wild.
If discovered near a nest or in large numbers, given the pecking nature the pigeon’s beak is designed for, ants do provide an easy target in terms of their speed and what it takes to ‘hunt’ them, but depending on the type of ant, a single insect might sometimes prove to be too small a target for the pigeon to comfortably pick up.
But Are Ants Nutritious?
Yes, they are. Ants are among the insects that entomophagists will eat.
There are numerous species that will each have their own nutritional make-up according to age, diet, and habitat but generally, ants are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The main minerals are iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. In sufficient amounts, these are all valuable to a pigeon’s diet.
They will supplement the normal pigeon diet of
But, as previously mentioned, it is more likely that feral pigeons will eat far more ants than domesticated pigeons.
Pigeon owners are unlikely to provide ants as a supplement, instead preferring to add things like chopped up vegetables, fruit and even popcorn to their pigeon feeders as snacks and supplements to their usual feed.
So, in conclusion, the answer is yes, pigeons very much can and do eat ants.
The small insects may not be the first item on the dream menu for the birds, but they will certainly do when a pigeon is hungry and ants are in the vicinity.
A small number of ants won’t provide any notable nutrition for a pigeon, but they do fit the bill in terms of the opportunistic feeding that dictates a feral pigeon’s diet.