Bowing or bobbing, as it is also known, is a peculiar characteristic of pigeons which is particularly commonplace as part of their mating ritual.
Yet there are other factors and reasons why a pigeon may appear to bow.
Some say that it is because of their physical contours. Pigeons are ungainly animals when on the ground.
Their legs are set far back on their bodies and the back and forth motion of their bodies is necessary for them to keep their balance.
Also, because they have monocular vision, eyes on either side of their head, they use the bowing or bobbing to focus or refocus their vision.
Bowing features most prominently in pigeons mating rituals.
During the mating season when young cocks are looking for females to pair off with, bowing is far more pronounced.
The Act Of Bowing
The cock starts his courtship ritual by puffing out his neck feathers, he then lowers his head in a bow and turns in circles to catch the attention of the female.
It’s very much like a young macho human on the beach, flexing his muscles for the girls to admire.
Typically female, she pretends not to notice and ignores him.
When the female pigeon walks away, head in the air, the cock, desperate not to be ignored, turns to other measures to gain her interest.
The young male will spread his tail feathers and drag them along the ground, pirouetting and bowing to capture her attention.
Like any young male of any species, he wants to cut out of the flock and get her alone, so he can work his magic.
He runs closely behind the female, herding her away from the other partner seeking males.
He keeps up this rapid walking and repetitive cooing, until she stops playing with his emotions and gives in.
Billing looks very much like kissing or pecking. At the end of the chase, the boy finally gets the girl and they kiss.
In actual fact, the male feeds the female with regurgitated food. Sort of like taking her out for a meal.
The female puts her beak into his beak to take the food. Usually, some preening takes place too.
Mating between pigeons is a brief and awkward practise.
The male has to climb on top of the female and flap its wings to balance.
That accomplished, the cock is so happy that he shows his joy by a display flight.
To make sure the world knows, especially his mates and rivals, he soars into the sky and claps his wings twice while in flight.