Have you ever kept an eye on a pair of pigeons tending to their chicks, And later you find one of the chicks lying dead on the ground? You might have wondered if pigeons are capable of killing their own young.
Yes, adult pigeons may resort to killing their offspring under certain circumstances. This phenomenon is known as scalping. Experts suggest that if parent pigeons sense any potential danger of an attack by a predator, they may choose to kill their babies rather than leave them as prey.
Let’s explore the topic of pigeon infanticide and try to understand why it happens. I’ll look at the reasons behind it, the signs to look out for, and what, if anything, can be done to prevent it. So if you’re a pigeon enthusiast or just curious about this strange behavior, keep reading!
Why Do Pigeons Kill Their Babies?
Pigeons are intelligent birds that have a natural instinct to protect their young. However, in some cases, they may resort to killing their own babies. There are several reasons why this behavior may occur:
Protection From Predators
One of the main reasons pigeons may kill their babies is to protect them from predators. If a baby falls out of the nest, it may cry and attract predators to the nest.
To prevent this, the parent pigeon may kill the baby to protect the other babies in the nest. This behavior is typical in both wild pigeons and those kept in captivity.
Pigeons can perceive danger, and if they find something unusual or perceive any kind of disease in the baby, they may kill it in order to protect the rest of the babies in the nest.
Weak or Ill Nestlings
Sometimes, Pigeons will kill a nestling if it is weak or ill in some way so that they can focus their energy on caring for the healthy nestlings.
Defending their Nest
If a baby pigeon is injured or threatened by a predator, the parent pigeon may kill it to protect the nest. This is especially true if the predator is a larger bird or mammal.
If you touch them frequently
If you touch the baby pigeon too often, the parent pigeon may become stressed and kill the baby out of fear. This behavior is more common in wild pigeons but can also happen in captive birds.
But, not all pigeons will exhibit this behavior, and it is not always easy to understand why it occurs. However, it is often a natural, instinctual behavior that is rooted in protecting their young.
Do Pigeons Kick Babies Out of the Nest?
Infanticide and kicking babies out of the nest are not the same thing. The act of killing one’s own offspring is Infanticide while kicking babies out of the nest refers to the act of physically removing them from the nest. While infanticide may occur in pigeon populations, it is not common.
However, it is not uncommon for pigeons to evict chicks from the nest once they are able to fend for themselves.
This is a natural part of the pigeon breeding process, as the parents will focus their energy and resources on the chicks that have the greatest chance of survival. This may sometimes involve kicking weaker or sickly chicks out of the nest.
This behavior is not cruel or intentional but rather a natural survival strategy. It can still be difficult to witness, as the evicted chicks may not survive independently.
How Long Can Baby Pigeons Survive Without Their Mother?
Baby pigeons, also known as squabs, depend entirely on their parents for survival in their first few weeks of life. Without the care and nourishment provided by their mother and father, squabs would not be able to survive for very long.
In the wild, squabs typically stay in the nest for the first 17-19 days of their lives, during which time they are fed a special secretion called “pigeon milk” by both of their parents.
After this period, they begin to fledge or leave the nest and find food independently. Well, they must still receive care and protection from their parents for several more weeks as they learn to fly and navigate their environment.
If for some reason, a squab is separated from its parents before it is fully fledged and able to survive on its own, the chances of its survival are significantly reduced.
While humans or another pigeon can raise a squab, this is unnatural and may not provide the same care and protection as its biological parents. In these cases, seek the assistance of a wildlife rehabilitation specialist to ensure the best chance of survival for the baby pigeon.
Is There Any Impact Of Infanticide On Pigeon Populations?
Infanticide is the act of killing an infant, either before or shortly after it is born. It is a commonly observed behavior among animals, including birds like pigeons.
But, indeed, pigeons don’t always do it. We have already learned that there are certain situations in which they exhibit this kind of behavior.
So as infanticide is not very common among pigeons, it doesn’t have a long-term effect on their population size. But, if infanticide rates rise for any reason, it could have a significant negative impact on the pigeon population.
As a result of infanticide, fewer young birds would survive to reach sexual maturity and reproduce. This would reduce the species’ reproductive success and lead to a decrease in the overall population size.
While there have been some reports of pigeons killing or abandoning their young, this behavior is highly unusual. Pigeons are known to be protective and nurturing parents and will do whatever it takes to ensure their babies are safe.
When faced with a stressful situation or an environment that is not suitable for raising chicks, pigeons will often take drastic measures to protect them. Always remember that this behavior is rare, and most parents will do everything they can to provide for their young.