Do Pigeons Make Good Pets?

Pigeons are considered city birds, but many species, such as fantails and homers, have been tamed to keep as pets. Let’s look at keeping domestic pigeons in the following article.

Sep 1, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
do pigeons make good pets

Pigeons are common birds to find in the city, but do they actually make good pets? Specially bred pigeons such as homers, king pigeons, and the magnificent Old Dutch capuchine are exotic-looking birds that are gentle and intelligent. Fancy pigeons are tame, which makes them easy to handle and care for. They are beautiful and sociable, and they have grown in popularity as loving pets. If you’re wondering whether pigeons make good pets, this guide looks at their temperament, care, and popular pigeon breeds to keep as companions.

Are Pigeons Friendly?

two pigeons sitting on a hand
Pigeons feeding from hand.

Pigeons that are bred as pets are known as “fancy pigeons” and are described as tame, sociable, and friendly birds that become attached to people. Unlike the wild pigeons you find in the city, the birds bred for keepers are docile and quiet. Many keepers train their birds to sit on their shoulders while being petted or to come when called. Pigeons are not loud and boisterous birds and make great pets that are loving and won’t scream or squawk like parrots. They won’t bite when gently handled and should be interacted with frequently to maintain a calm temperament.

How Long Do Pigeons Live?

pigeon posing outdoors
A fancy pigeon posing.

The average lifespan of a wild pigeon is 6-7 years, but domestic birds can reach up to 15 years of age with good care. If you are thinking about getting a pigeon as a pet, it is a long-term commitment. The average age of a pet pigeon is 7-9 years, where they have access to food, water, and shelter. Be sure to provide them with a nutritious diet and space to exercise to prevent stress. Many people think that pigeons are carriers of diseases, but all wild birds have the ability to carry and spread parasites and disease. You can protect domestic pigeons by keeping their enclosures clean and securing their aviary against wild birds. A clean cage, good food, and loving interactions can help pet pigeons reach their golden years.

How Smart Are Pigeons?

pigeon flying in the sky
A pigeon gliding through the air.

You may be surprised to learn that pigeons are incredibly smart and easy to train. In a study concerning recognition in birds, pigeons could recognize themselves and differentiate human faces in an image. A fun fact is that pigeons were used during WWI and WWII to carry life-saving messages to troops because they were intelligent and hardy birds. Today, breeders race pigeons or train them to recognize symbols because they have an incredible memory. They can respond to human faces, and their mental abilities are likened to a 2-3-year-old child.

Are Pigeons Easy to Care for?

face of a pigeon
Pigeons are generally healthy birds.

Pigeons are tough birds, and once their basic needs are satisfied, they are easy to care for. They don’t need special toys to keep busy, but pigeons do enjoy climbing bird ladders, perching on swings, and pecking at mirrors. Pet pigeons can be kept indoors or in an outdoor aviary that offers protection from extremes in temperature. They need perches to sit on and enough room to fly and walk around. They don’t eat a lot and only need to be fed once a day with a mixture of grains or pellets. Pigeons are often chosen as beginner pet birds because they are generally healthy, tame, and affordable to maintain.

What Do You Need to Keep Pet Pigeons?

pigeon sitting in front of window
A pigeon sitting outside an aviary.

To raise healthy and happy pigeons, they need a secure enclosure, shelter from harsh weather, and access to fresh food and water. What you will need depends on whether you are keeping your pet bird inside or outside. Birds that are kept outdoors do best in an insulated aviary to protect them from the cold. You can add bedding, such as straw that pigeons can use to build nests. Remember to remove soiled or wet straw that can quickly develop harmful mold and mildew.

Indoor pigeons require a fairly large cage to move around in that allows them to fly and walk for exercise. Pigeons enjoy bird bathing, so be sure to add a shallow dish with clean water they can splash in. Take the time to interact with your pet pigeon by regularly handling them to maintain their friendly demeanor.

Which Pigeons Make the Best Pets?

white fantail pigeon
A proud fantail pigeon.

Fancy pigeons make excellent pets because they are peaceful and available in different colors and feathering. The fantail pigeon is known for its beauty and tame nature, but more so for its impressive tail, which consists of over thirty feathers. Homer pigeons are sweet-tempered and usually fly considerable distances. Fanciers train their homer pigeons to fly during the day and return to their aviaries at night. A breed that is calm, low-maintenance, and unique in personality is the snow-white king pigeon. Another breed to consider is the tumbler pigeon, which performs a rolling motion while flying, and how it got its name.

Why Choose a Pigeon as a Pet

pigeon green background
A pigeon spending time outdoors.

Pigeons tend to bond quickly with humans because they are social creatures. They aren’t noisy and prefer to softly coo or chirp when they’re content. Breeds such as the fantail and the king pigeon are tame and make exceptional companions. They are easily taken care of with daily feed, fresh water, and spacious aviaries where they can walk or fly at will. A pigeon makes a good pet because they are intelligent animals that connect with people. They are so smart; you can train your pet pigeon to recognize the letters of the alphabet or to respond to your commands. If you are looking for a social, peaceful, and intelligent pet bird, then the pigeon is the perfect choice.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.