Pigeons: Everything You Want to Know About Our Feathered Neighbors

Pigeons: Everything You Want to Know About Our Feathered Neighbors

Pigeons are an often overlooked, but an abundant part of our communities both past and present. These intriguing, and polarizing birds possess a myriad of adaptations and behaviors that make them uniquely suited to urban environments. From their distinctive cooing to their iridescent plumage, pigeons have captivated human curiosity for centuries. These seemingly unassuming birds that grace our city streets have a tale to tell—one that’s filled with diversity, companionship, and a touch of mystery.

Breeds/Species of Pigeons

Although most of us are extremely familiar with the Rock Pigeon, the blue and gray (or sometimes brownish, red or white) bird with a colorful neck, there’s a little more to the family tree – so to speak. First, pigeons and doves are not only cousins, but they are also basically the same bird. Even though they don’t look the same, and definitely have different reputations. Both are members of the Columbidae family and the only true distinction is in their names.

Beyond our modern birds, pigeons have connections to many fascinating fowl kind throughout including the Dodo bird, Galapagos Dove, Kereru and many more. From the revered carrier pigeon, celebrated for its remarkable homing abilities and historical role in communication, to the tragic tale of the passenger pigeon, once abundant in North America before succumbing to human-induced extinction, each species has left a distinct mark on our societies.

Pigeons and Humans

Our relationship with pigeons dates back millennia. Tracing back to ancient Mesopotamia, pigeons have been integral to human society as messengers, symbols of peace, and even as culinary delicacies in some cultures. Their domestication and utilization in various capacities, such as racing, show a deep-seated connection between humans and these feathered companions.


DIRECTV’s spokepigeons, Frank and Bobby are doing their part to remind people of our feathered city companions.

Pigeons and Their Families

Ever wondered about the intricacies of pigeon family life? Nestled within the bustling urban landscape, pigeon pairs meticulously construct their nests, often hidden from prying eyes. The arrival of squabs, or baby pigeons, marks a significant event, as devoted parents tirelessly nurture their offspring until they’re ready to take flight on their own. A common question is do pigeons mate for life? It’s no surprise that these very social and affectionate birds, are often monogamous. It seems that when pigeons pick a mate, they stay together until one of them dies. And we can admire that “’til death do us part’ level of commitment.

What about baby pigeons? These rarely seen, awkward, yellow feathered chicks spend their time in the well hidden pigeon nests tucked into the nooks and crannies of our cities, including underpasses, rain gutters, abandoned buildings or barns.

Why Are Pigeons Villainized?

Despite their endearing qualities, pigeons have often fallen victim to unwarranted vilification. Misconceptions regarding their role in disease transmission have perpetuated unfounded fears among the public. However, scientific evidence suggests that pigeons pose minimal health risks when compared to other urban wildlife. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our perceptions and appreciate these resilient birds for their contributions to urban ecosystems.

Pigeons in Pop Culture

Venturing beyond their natural habitats, pigeons have left an indelible mark on popular culture. From the whimsical adventures of Mo Willems’ beloved character in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus to their unexpected cameos in iconic commercials, pigeons have transcended their urban confines to become cultural icons. This legacy can be seen today in DIRECTV’s latest campaign, “For the Birds” where two pigeons lament because DIRECTV can be streamed, satellite free.

Pigeons in the Movies

As an intertwined part of our culture, pigeons also make many appearances in some of our favorite movies. Check out a few below, all available on DIRECTV

‘Home Alone 2’

One of the best scenes involves the beloved Pigeon Lady’s friends. 


Pigeons have a recurring and symbolic presence in this film. 

‘Lego Batman’

Pigeons make a small cameo, but showcases their indelible presence is our communities, real and fictional. 

Pigeon Words and Their Backgrounds:

Beyond their physical presence, pigeons have also influenced our language and lexicon. From “Pigeon Forge,” a bustling town in Tennessee, to common phrases like “pigeon-toed” and “pigeonholed,” we’re given little glimpses at the linguistic legacy of these ubiquitous birds.

Pigeons are far more than mere city dwellers; they are resilient survivors, adaptable companions, and integral components of urban ecosystems. So, the next time you encounter a pigeon perched atop a city bench or cooing softly from a nearby rooftop, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and complexity of these fascinating avian ambassadors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are doves pigeons?

Yes, pigeons and doves are the same kind of bird, but they look a little different.

Wow long do pigeons live?

The feral pigeon population only lives four years on average, but domesticated pet pigeons can live anywhere from 15-30 years!

Are carrier pigeons extinct?

No, passenger pigeons are extinct. Carrier pigeons, homing pigeons and messenger pigeons are just trained rock pigeons.

Do pigeons mate for life?

It seems that pigeons do stay with the same mate until one of them dies.

Do pigeons migrate?

Unlike many kinds of birds, pigeons do not migrate. They prefer home and can find and return home even after being relocated or flying far away.