Pigeons have always been a fascinating bird species. They are common in parks and city streets, often seen walking in circles, turning their heads to look around, and pecking at the ground. While some may view this behavior as simple bird quirks, there is a deeper reason behind it.
Pigeons walk in circles due to a neurological condition called “circular orientation.” This condition causes them to lose their sense of direction and continuously walk in circles.
This blog post aims to delve deeper into the reasons behind pigeons’ circular movements and explore the science behind them.
Reasons for Pigeon Walking In Circles
While pigeons’ rhythmic walk may seem calming initially, some may wonder why these birds walk in circles. There are multiple reasons for this behavior that humans have been trying to decipher for centuries.
Here are some reasons pigeons walk in circles, backed by scientific research.
Sometimes, a pigeon’s navigation ability can be disrupted due to physical damage or disease in their nervous system.
- Vestibular disease: A parasitic infection known as vestibular disease affects a pigeon’s inner ear and can cause disorientation, balance issues, and disorganized movements.
- Brain damage: When a pigeon experiences trauma to the head, it can result in permanent brain damage. This can lead to disorientation, impaired vision and coordination, and bizarre behavior, such as walking in circles.
- Newcastle disease: This highly infectious virus can lead to neurological damage in birds, causing muscle weakness and possible paralysis, which results in strange or repetitive behaviors such as walking in circles.
Pigeons have an extraordinary sense of orientation and direction. They use navigational techniques that are still not fully understood. However, multiple environmental factors could disrupt their orientation, causing them to wander in circles.
- Wind: Strong gusts of wind can throw off a pigeon’s balance and cause it to lose its orientation, leading to circling accidentally.
- Light: Pigeons can sense changes in light intensity, and sudden shifts from light to dark can disorient them, leading to strange circular behavior.
- Magnetic fields: Pigeons can detect the earth’s magnetic field and use it as a compass to navigate. However, interference with this field due to electromagnetic radiation or other factors could confuse their sense of direction and cause them to walk in circles.
Behavioral Conditioning Due to Human Interaction
Pigeons are social animals whose behavior can adapt to human presence and interaction.
- Feeding habits: Pigeons associate specific environments with feeding times and locations. The pigeon may develop circular movements if a human feeder consistently provides food in a particular location.
- Trauma: Pigeons can experience trauma resulting from human interactions, such as being chased, captured, or injured by someone. This experience can cause the pigeon to develop repetitive or stereotypic behaviors, including walking in circles.
- Engaging with other pigeons: pigeons are highly social animals and sometimes engage in courtship or aggressive behavior. This behavior can lead to circling each other to initiate mating or establish dominance.
Pigeons are social animals with a broad range of communication and behaviors used in social interaction.
- Aggressive behavior: When pigeons compete for resources or mates, they may engage in aggressive displays such as circling each other.
- Courtship behavior: Walking in circles is one of the courtship behaviors exhibited by pigeons. The male spins in circles around the female, often in a specific direction, as part of his display to win her affection.
Genetic Factors and Evolution
Finally, there are various reasons why pigeon biology could be responsible for walking in circles, such as genetic predisposition, hardwired instincts and evolutionary traits.
- Instinct: Pigeons engage in various innate behaviors that serve an adaptive function in their environment. Walking in circles may be an instinctual behavior that pigeons engage in as part of their social interactions.
- Evolution: Walking in circles could be part of an evolutionary strategy by which pigeons’ behavior evolves to adapt to their environment to ensure survival.
How do You Know If Pigeons Walking in Circles Due to Illness
Pigeons walking in circles can be a sign of illness or injury, but it’s essential to consider other factors and observe their behavior carefully to make an accurate assessment. Here are some steps to help you determine if pigeons are walking in circles due to illness:
Observe Their Behavior
Spend some time watching the pigeons and their behavior. Are they consistently walking in circles, or do they occasionally change direction?
Check for Physical Injuries
Inspect the pigeons for any visible signs of injury or trauma, such as limping, bleeding, or wounds. Injuries can cause pigeons to move irregularly.
Look for Other Symptoms
Pay attention to other symptoms such as lethargy, drooping wings, ruffled feathers, or changes in their posture. These can be indicators of illness.
Assess Their Balance
An impaired sense of balance can cause pigeons to walk in circles. Observe if they seem unsteady on their feet or if they frequently lose their balance.
Examine the Environment
Consider environmental factors that might affect their behavior. Are there obstacles or hazards in their path that force them to walk in circles?
Watch for Disorientation
Pigeons may walk in circles if they become disoriented or confused. This could be due to changes in their surroundings, exposure to toxins, or neurological issues.
Check for Common Pigeon Diseases
Pigeons can suffer from various diseases, including avian pox, avian paramyxovirus, and avian influenza. These illnesses can affect their behavior. Look for other signs of these diseases, such as respiratory distress or eye and nose discharge.
Consider Environmental Factors
Assess the pigeons’ living conditions, diet, and access to clean water. Poor nutrition or contaminated food and water sources can lead to health problems.
Do Pigeons Suddenly Fly Away After Walking in Circles?
Pigeons’ sudden flight behaviors investigated: Pigeons are known to exhibit peculiar behavior such as walking in circles before suddenly taking flight. Scientists have delved into this phenomenon, aiming to understand the underlying reasons. Recent studies suggest that pigeons engage in these circular movements to gather visual information from their surroundings, aiding them in navigation and avoiding potential threats. This behavior showcases the remarkable adaptability and intelligence of these birds.
How to Treat Pigeons Walking in Circles?
If you observe pigeons walking in circles, it’s a sign that something is wrong, and they may need medical attention. Treating pigeons walking in circles involves identifying the underlying cause and taking appropriate steps to address it. Here’s what you can do:
Isolate the Affected Pigeon
If you have multiple pigeons in the same enclosure, isolate the pigeon that is walking in circles to prevent potential disease transmission to other birds.
Consult a Veterinarian
Reach out to a veterinarian with experience in avian medicine. A professional examination is crucial to diagnose the underlying issue accurately.
Provide Supportive Care
Depending on the veterinarian’s diagnosis, you may need to provide supportive care, which can include the following:
- Medication: The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics if the pigeon has an infection or illness.
- Fluids: If the pigeon is dehydrated or not eating correctly, the veterinarian may recommend oral syringes or intravenous (IV) therapy fluids.
- Nutrition: Ensure the pigeon is receiving appropriate nutrition. The vet may suggest hand-feeding or a special diet if it’s not eating independently.
Address Environmental Issues
Review the pigeon’s living conditions, ensuring it has a clean and safe environment. Remove any potential hazards, such as sharp objects or toxic substances, from the enclosure.
Monitor the Pigeon
Keep a close eye on the pigeon’s condition during and after treatment. Note any improvements or worsening of symptoms and report them to the veterinarian promptly.
Follow Veterinary Instructions
Strictly adhere to the veterinarian’s treatment plan and instructions. If the pigeon is prescribed medication, administer it as directed and complete the entire course of treatment, even if the pigeon appears to have improved.
After treatment and recovery, take steps to prevent future health issues among your pigeons, including regular cleaning of their living space, providing clean water and balanced nutrition, and monitoring for signs of illness in the entire flock.
Consult with a Wildlife Rehabilitation Expert
If the pigeon is wild and not a domesticated pet, consider contacting a wildlife rehabilitation expert or organization for guidance on its care and potential release back into the wild once it has recovered.
The behavior of pigeons walking in circles can be explained through various scientific perspectives. They could be performing a role in their innate homing instincts or dealing with poor vision. Also, they appear to be able to perceive the electromagnetic field, which governs their movement.
Alternatively, the behavior may be a result of neurological or sensory issues. But more research is needed to understand this phenomenon fully,
Their social behavior and mating could also contribute to their circling habits. Human influence in creating circular environments could also contribute to their behavior. It’s pretty impressive how these birds navigate their surroundings, and their quirky behaviors, like circling, add to their charm.