How Long do Pigeons Live? Pigeon Lifespan & Other Pigeon Questions

Pigeons are everywhere in the UK. Especially in town centres. While many people consider them as pests, they serve a purpose in our everyday lives and there are several amazing species of pigeon that you can find across the UK. From the calming hoot of a wood pigeon to a rock dove.

It brings us to the question at hand: how long do pigeons live for? While generally, pigeons are hardy birds, their life span really depends on their environment and lifestyle. They are able to adapt to some pretty harsh environments and diets (like Greggs's pasty on a Saturday morning), but it isn't usually good for their health.

There are several factors we will consider here: the species, genetics, and environment of the pigeon. So, how long do pigeons live?


So, How Long do Pigeons Live?

Great question and the very general answer is that Pigeons generally live from 3 years up to 15 years. There are some occasions where birds (generally those kept in captivity) can live up to 20 years and longer.

The most common Pigeon species that can be found in the UK are the Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Rock Dove and Racing Pigeon. We will look at all 5 and their average life spans, but that depends entirely on where they live.

Mostly, the factors are availability of food and water, the prevalence of predators (wild birds are at high risk of being eaten), and the presence of disease or parasites (wild is bad for this too). The Pigeons that are kept as pets or raised for racing may also have different lifespans than those that are living in the wild down to their diets, care from humans and lives safe away from preditors.

Feral Pigeon AKA Rock Dove

The feral pigeon, also called the 'city pigeon' or 'Rock Dove is a sight we all know well. Hanging around the Greggs and McDonalds in every town centre. Usually injured, picking up scraps and hiding above the shop signs waiting for somebody trying to have a quiet moment with a snack.

While they are often considered as pests, they are a hardy bunch and can often have beautiful colourings on their necks, and elegant wings.

The average lifespan of a feral pigeon is between 3 to 6 years. Which is surprising considering what they eat. But, they are a tough bird and have a good inning.

Rock Dove

Wood Pigeon

The wood pigeon is a large and beautiful bird that is found in woodlands, parks, and gardens throughout the UK, and in many places around the world.

Whole the birds are quite plain and scruffy looking, what makes the birds so beautiful is the distinctive cooing call which is considered as a symbol of the British countryside. But they are also very common across Europe too.

The wood pigeons have an average lifespan of three to four years, which is slightly shorter than their Feral cousins.

Wood Pigeon

Collared Dove

The collared dove is a small and delicate bird that is found in suburban areas throughout the UK.

You'll know these birds instantly by their distinctive cooing call which rings out in the mornings and evenings across calm woodlands, and also their beautiful plumage of tail-feathers, and the little collar on the back of their neck.

Easily confused with a wood pigeon, this is one of the more majestic pigeons you'll see.

Collared doves have an average lifespan of 2 to 5 years, and live significantly longer when in captivity.

Collored Dove

Racing Pigeon

Racing pigeons are exactly what you're thinking. They are a special breed of pigeon that are bred specifically for racing. And there are a lot of people involved in this practice too.

These birds are trained to fly over long distances and are often set to race against other pigeons, from other handlers. This breed can reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, believe it or not.

Racing pigeons have an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years. It is likely that the lifespan of this pigeon is significantly longer than the other breeds here because Racing pigeons are generally kept in captivity, and looked after by humans. It makes a huge difference to what they eat and the dangers they face.

Racing Pigeon


Final thoughts

It seems that how long a pigeon lives, depends on whether they are held in captivity or not.

The average lifespan of a pigeon in the wild is 3 to 5 years, while those in captivity can live between 8 to 10 years. There are mentions of pet pigeons living up to 20 years old. That. is. insane.

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