Pigeons do and will eat tomatoes, but it is not one of the best food options because tomatoes are highly acidic.
If you grow your own tomatoes and are concerned about pigeons eating them, don’t worry, there are several methods such as using nets or cloches, as well as different methods of scaring them away which will prevent pigeons from eating your entire crop.
Pigeon and Tomatoes – Nutrition
From a simple perspective, it could be assumed that pigeons and tomatoes are a decent match.
Tomatoes are a very healthy food (for humans so it can be assumed the same for pigeons) and being soft in texture, they are manageable for pigeons.
A pigeon’s beak is ecologically designed for its granivorous diet of seeds, grains, grasses and small nuts so the bird finds it difficult to eat many types of food.
Tomatoes do not require sharp beaks with cutting edges, so this fruit is easily accessible.
They contain protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat, all needed by pigeons. They also contain vitamins A, E and C.
Pigeons need vitamin A for healthy skin while both E and C play important parts in the metabolic processes.
Tomatoes also contain potassium, magnesium and folate – all of which contribute to a healthy pigeon.
One of the most important nutrients in tomatoes is lycopene. This is what gives them their red color. It is a very powerful antioxidant that can help pigeons (or any other living creature) with combatting environmental stress.
So if tomatoes are generally full of nutrients and vitamins a pigeon needs, are they good for them to eat?
Tomatoes are, in the main, good for pigeons to eat but they should do so sparingly.
This is because tomatoes are a particularly acidic fruit, and too much acidity in a bird’s digestive system can do damage over time and make the pigeon incredibly uncomfortable and in bad cases, cause ulcers.
Complications from eating tomatoes are not overly common, but if you are a pigeon owner who is able to have some control over your pigeon’s diet, then there are much better options to choose than tomatoes.
It should be noted that the advice of limiting tomatoes in a pigeon’s diet (and indeed for other pet birds) relates to the fruit.
The leafy parts of the plant are perfectly safe, and the bird also gets the stimulation of ripping the leaves apart to get portions small enough to swallow.
Something else to note is that the problem with acidity only relates to raw tomatoes. When tomatoes are cooked or processed, much of the acidity is destroyed so it is better to serve your bird sun-dried tomatoes or even spaghetti sauce than raw tomatoes.
Alternatives to Tomatoes
If you want to ensure your pigeon has a varied diet you can supplement their proprietary feed with fruit and vegetables.
- Apples (make sure to deseed them as the seeds can be toxic for small birds).
Protecting Your Tomato Crop from Pigeons
So even though pigeons shouldn’t eat too many tomatoes, they will certainly eat them if they can find them.
Wild pigeons will not only eat the fruit but will also tear up the leafy parts for nest building.
As a gardener or allotment owner who likes to grow tomatoes, you’ll need to consider ways to protect your fruit against pigeons.
There are various ways to keep pigeons away from your plants.
This means employing methods that will either deter the birds from visiting your tomato plants in the first place or scaring them away when they land. This includes
- Hanging objects (such as suspending used CDs)
- Wind chimes
Distracting birds is effectively bribing them away from your plants. If pigeons are heading to your tomato plants, they are either hungry or thirsty. So, distract them with water to drink and fill some bird feeders with appropriate food.
One way to keep pigeons from destroying your tomato plants is to prevent their access. Use preventative measures such as:
The ultimate way to protect tomatoes is to grow them in a greenhouse.
The general consensus is that yes, pigeons can and will eat tomatoes, but in a domestic setting where you can dictate their diet, the high acidity level of the fruit is not the most ideal for such a small bird.
Stick to other fruits to be completely safe!