Bird Lists

City pigeon – reviled neighbor

The City Pigeon – Loyal pigeon bird
Surname city ​​pigeon, street pigeon (Columba livia, forma domestica)
Size 29-35cm
distribution all continents except Antarctica
habitat cities
breeding season March – September, sometimes all year round
food Seeds, grains, leftovers

They have the worst possible reputation: city pigeons are suspected of spreading diseases, spoiling buildings with their droppings and breeding unbridled. The city pigeon or the street pigeon is not as bad as its reputation! Anyone who thinks that city pigeons are a new phenomenon is very wrong. Already in antiquity there are reports of these birds in the midst of civilization.


The species of city pigeon has evolved from domestic pigeons and carrier pigeons, both descended from the wild rock pigeon. To be more precise, domestic pigeons and carrier pigeons were even bred by humans, which is why we owe the widespread use of today’s city pigeon to ourselves. The origin of the rock pigeon can still be seen in the city pigeon: Their plumage is often dark gray and shimmering greenish. However, there are many variations, so that white, brown and red are also mixed into the grey. Regionally, independent subspecies have formed in the 30-35 cm large birds.


We don’t need to worry about the population of this bird species. City pigeons settle in cities and communities around the world, with an estimated number of up to 500 million individuals. That was not always the case: it was only in the post-war landscape of rubble that pigeons really took hold in the cities. With no natural predators and a reproductive rate of up to 10 young per year, populations exploded. Due to today’s overpopulation, the pigeons rob each other of living space and food. A large part of the urban population is ill but still able to reproduce. As a result, the average life expectancy of a city pigeon is currently only about two to three years, also because up to 90% of the young animals die within the first year of life.

behavior and knowledge

City pigeons have a hard time being accepted as a valuable part of our environment. For this purpose, all the prejudices about city pigeons must first be cleared out of the way. On the one hand their reputation as disease carriers or “air rats”: Many pigeons are sick, but their diseases are pigeon diseases. It is extremely unlikely that people will become infected with these. In fact, the health risk from pigeons is about the same as that from dogs or other pets. What the city pigeon also makes few friends with is its pigeon droppings. However, this has only a low acid value and therefore usually only affects the appearance of buildings. However, it is true that caustic fungi can settle on the pigeon droppings, which damage the facade.

Controlling the overpopulation of city pigeons does not require killing operations or birds of prey, much more appropriate are dovecotes and other breeding sites where populations can be controlled. In such lofts, bird watchers can also observe a little-noticed fact about city pigeons: they remain loyal to their breeding partner throughout their lives.

There is more information on the subject on the “People for Animal Rights” website.

Cover photo by Couleur on Pixabay


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