Do Pigeons Kill their Babies?


Yes adult pigeons do occasionally kill their babies.

This behaviour is called scalping.

The motives why aren’t clear. Typically pigeons are very attentive parents and guard their chicks fiercely, so pigeons killing their babies is very rare.

1. Pigeons Sometimes Scalp Malformed Or Ill Babies

It is known that in many animal species, malformed or sickly youngsters are either driven out or killed.

The mother senses something is not right with the new-born and kills it so that she doesn’t waste precious resources on one that isn’t capable of surviving.

It’s all about preserving the strength of their line and the species as a whole.

It is probable that pigeons have this same natural instinct.

If this is the case with pigeons, a malformed or weak chick may be killed by scalping, that is pecked to death.

2. Baby Pigeons That Aren’t Ready To Fly May Be Killed

Another scenario may be that chicks that aren’t quite ready to fly the nest and become independent, are forced out of the nest.

One that resists leaving may be killed in frustration.

3. Baby Pigeons May Be Killed If They Fall From The Nest To Avoid Attracting Predators

If a baby pigeon is unfortunate enough to fall out of the nest, one of its parents will probably kill it.

This is an instinctive act as the pigeon believes the hapless baby will squawk and attract predators so will kill the baby in order to protect the other babies. 

This behaviour is consistent in wild pigeons and those kept in a loft.

4. Pigeons Kill Babies From Other Families If They Wander Into The Wrong Nest

There is evidence that a baby who wanders into the wrong nest will be killed by the parents of said nest.

This all points to the territorial nature of pigeons.

If you do keep pigeons and they are breeding, it is a good idea that nest sites have clear demarcation and are also constructed so that little ones cannot easily leave the nest.

5. Human Handling May Cause Pigeons To Kill Their Babies

One theory says that babies or eggs being handled by humans may be the cause of a pigeon being killed. 

Supposedly, the smell of human scent makes the babies appear alien to the parents.

Quite honestly, this is one of those urban myths that people seem to be willing to believe.

Pigeons have a very poor sense of smell in this regard and so it isn’t a likely explanation.

6. Baby Pigeons May Be Killed Over Territorial Disputes

Another reason could be a territorial depute between parent birds.

One pair of birds decides that another pair’s nest is too near and attacks the squabs instead of the adult birds.

7. A New Partner May Kill The Babies

One other reason may be if a female attracts another male because her mate is lost (this is rare as usually pigeons mate for life), the new male may attack and kill the squabs of the other male.

This happens in many other species, both in birds and animals.

Summary

As you can see, pigeons do kill their young on occasion, but it seems to be a rarity.

So far, no one has come up with a satisfactory and concrete explanation as to why this should occur.

As every pigeon fancier knows, pigeons are considered very good parents, so the killing of their offspring is very rare indeed. 

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