Do Pigeons Eat Vegetables?

Feral pigeons will eat pretty much anything including vegetables they find among the food discarded by humans and any vegetables accessible to them in the wild.

Domestic pigeons will eat vegetables provided by their owners within limitations.

do pigeons eat vegetables

The diet of a pigeon is something that you need to have a full understanding of if you are going to be an owner/breeder.

Most people know from simple life experience that pigeons tend to predominantly feast on a mixture of various seeds and grains, but how do vegetables fit into the picture?

Do Pigeons Eat Vegetables in The Wild?

The short answer to this question is yes, pigeons do eat vegetables, but there are preferences and limits.

A pigeon will be more than happy to sample any type of vegetable that is available if they are particularly hungry and unable to source any of their more preferred food options, but they seem to be especially fond of the leaves of brassicas.

The brassica family includes broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower.

These are good choices because these veggies provide quality and amounts of the vitamins a pigeon needs like vitamins C and K along with key nutrients, beta-carotene, glucosinolates and soluble fiber.

These might well be the vegetables that pigeons prefer because of taste, but they are also among the most cultivated vegetables around the world, so availability is good.

Another factor is that a pigeon’s beak isn’t suited to other types of vegetables. They can’t dig up the ground to eat root vegetables which would also be too hard for them to bite into and they can’t pick off items like beans and peas.

They can pick at the leaves of brassicas, attempting to rip off portions of thinner leaves and leaving the larger veiny parts and stalks that are too tough and cumbersome for a pigeon’s beak dexterity and digestive system.  

What Vegetables Can Owners Feed Pigeons?

If you want to feed vegetables to your birds, you can do so by making a finely chopped mixture or mince from any of the following which are all described as being bird safe:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Snap peas
  • Dandelion greens
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach (only in small amounts)
  • Edamame beans
  • Bell peppers
  • Potatoes
pigeon eating lettuce

We are sure it is something that you already have in place, but when vegetables are being introduced into a pigeon’s daily diet, it is even more important to make sure that you have fresh drinking water available to your birds every single day.

What Else Do Pigeons Eat?

It isn’t recommended that a pigeon lives on a completely vegetable-based diet. Pigeons have evolved to be granivorous birds which means vegetables should supplement their expected diet, not the other way round.  

Regular food for pigeons:

Are There Any Vegetables That Pigeon’s Shouldn’t Eat?

Do not feed the following vegetables to your pigeons

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Cassava

Additionally, while tomatoes are ok, do not give your pigeon the leaves, stems or vines (the green “vegetable” bits) as they are highly toxic.

Some birds enjoy beans but, just as for humans, they must be cooked. Uncooked beans contain hemagglutinin which is toxic to birds (and humans).

When feeding a domestic pigeon, the most important thing to ensure you do is to chop the vegetables as finely as possible and wash them thoroughly in cold water to get rid of any potentially harmful substances that might be on the surface of the vegetables.

You don’t need to worry too much about peeling the vegetables as pigeons are capable of digesting the tougher outer surface of the vegetables provided they are chopped sufficiently small enough (and are also receiving a supply of grit).

Ensure a Sufficient Supply of Fresh Water

What is equally as important to ensure that all these foods and vegetables in particular are digested sufficiently is to make sure that your pigeon has access to fresh drinking water at all times.

Water is essential not only for good hydration but also for aiding the digestion process and helping the bird to break down and process the vegetables properly, especially those finely chopped bits of peel.

Denise Bereford

Denise Bereford is a full-time writer and researcher with a long-standing passion for pigeons.

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