Pigeons get a bad rap as opportunistic feeders – birds that will eat just about anything.
While it’s true that pigeons are willing to eat a wide variety of foods, they do not eat mice.
Why Can’t Pigeons Eat Mice?
Perhaps pigeons would be willing to eat mice if it were possible, but the truth is that their beaks and digestive tracts aren’t designed to eat vertebrates.
While pigeons have been known to eat small lizards or insects from time to time, most of their diet consists of plant matter.
Additionally, they don’t have any teeth and their food is usually swallowed whole.
Without teeth, the pigeon isn’t able to get the mice into small enough pieces for this to be possible.
At the same time, raw meat is too tough for a pigeon to eat.
They may sometimes eat cooked meat they find in the street or rubbish but cannot eat raw meat and therefore won’t eat mice.
Some birds of prey do eat mice, including hawks and falcons. However they are much faster than a pigeon. Pigeons wouldn’t likely be able to move quickly enough to catch a mouse, even if they wanted to eat it.
Finally, based on instinct, a pigeon is likely to avoid eating a mouse due to the parasites and bacteria they often contain.
Pigeons don’t have the strongest immune systems, when compared to other birds, and eating a mouse could kill them.
If you have a pet pigeon, it’s not a good idea to offer mice as a meal.
Even if your pigeon would be willing to eat it, it could end up sick.
It’s better to stick with a diet that’s designed for a pigeon’s beak and digestive system.
What Type of Beak Does a Pigeon Have?
You know that a pigeon’s beak isn’t designed to eat meat.
A pigeon has a short, hard and pointed beak.
This allows it to pick up food off the ground, usually seeds and grains.
This kind of beak also allows for grabbing small insects and the occasional worm.
If a bird were to eat a pigeon, it would need a beak more like an owl or hawk.
That is, a beak that is strong and hooked.
That hook is what allows birds of prey to tear the meat from raw prey when they catch them.
Lacking this hook makes it nearly impossible for a pigeon to eat a mouse.
When compared to other kinds of beaks, you can begin to see why a pigeon’s beak is designed for its diet of seeds and grains.
For example, a hummingbird’s long, pointed beak is ideal for sucking nectar from flowers, nectar being its primary food source.
What Should Pigeons Eat?
The bulk of a pigeon’s diet should be sunflower seeds, with other seeds and grains filling in the gaps.
This is the recommended meal plan if you keep pigeons as pets or if you breed them as ornamental birds or racing birds.
However, pigeons in the wild aren’t so selective.
They are ground feeders, meaning they forage for food on the pavement, earth or other surfaces.
Most of what pigeons eat is grains and seeds, but they might also eat fruit, berries, greens and the occasional snail, insect or worm.
Pigeons in urban environments may also forage in the trash, eating other items that aren’t traditionally considered bird food.
Keeping in mind the pigeon’s beak, the foods they choose are those that can be picked up with their beak.
When it comes to seeds, the beak allows a pigeon to crack the shell and get to what’s inside.
How do Pigeons Eat?
A pigeon’s digestive tract contains specialised enzymes that break down the food it eats, drawing out the nutrients so they can be delivered throughout the body.
Historically, birds have been offered grit to aid the gizzard in breaking down food.
However, since pigeons often eat the entire seed, shell included, they may not need this additional grit, as the seeds can perform the job.
You may want to offer your pigeon ground eggshells or oyster shell grit to aid in digestion.
Too much isn’t a good thing, so it should be used in small amounts.
In the wild, pigeons may be drawn to foods that they are able to digest more easily.
However, since they are ground feeders, they may get enough grit as they pick up their food, which ensures that the gizzard gets the help it needs.
Do Mice Eat Pigeons?
Pigeons won’t eat mice, but will a mouse eat a pigeon?
The answer is yes. Mice are opportunistic feeders, just like pigeons, and will eat virtually anything available. They may attack, kill and eat a pigeon if the chance presents itself.
Usually a mouse will only go after an old or sickly pigeon because it’s easier to catch. A healthy pigeon will simply fly away to escape the mouse.
Mice may also go after baby pigeons if the nest is left unattended.
Ultimately, you can’t expect pigeons to take care of a mouse problem.
They can’t digest the meat and won’t waste their time going after a mouse. Eating a mouse could kill them so pigeons should stick to a diet of seeds, grain and fruit.