Have you ever seen a baby pigeon?

Have you ever seen a baby pigeon? Highly unlikely, in fact very few people have. But why is this?

The reason may be found in the pigeons’ breeding habits. Like their rock dove ancestors they nest in cavities, natural cliff ledges replaced by holes and cavities in our urban buildings. Nesting high in inaccessible locations keeps the chicks safe from predators and out of sight.

Pigeons are among the few birds that they feed their chicks (known as squabs) on ‘crop milk’, the only other species to do being the flamingo and penguins. This crop milk is rich in fat in protein and aids in the chicks’ rapid growth.

Pigeons spend a long time in their nests before fledging, between 30 to 40 days. On their highly nutritious diet, by the time the fledglings emerge they are almost fully grown and not easy to distinguish from their parents. Fully feathered, they are already able to fly as skilfully as an adult bird.

A sharp eyed observer may notice some subtle signs of a juvenile bird. They lack the iridescent green/purple neck feathers of the adults, tend to be duller in appearance and lack the bright red eye, they also have a pinkish beak & cere (the fleshy part on top of the beak).

A fledgling pigeon spotted in the harbour a few days ago.

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2017 ©

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