Visit any city in the world and you are likely to see pigeons everywhere. Pigeons, the most ubiquitous of city birds, there are so many around us that we completely stopped paying our attention to them. We see them on the sidewalks, walls, parapets and buildings on which they sweetly coo and seek food for themselves. There is something strange about the pigeons, namely that we see them old and young, but still we never see their chicks. Given the abundance of pigeons around us, this raises a logical question, and why do not we see their chicks and nests?
Why don’t people see pigeon chicks?
In fact, young pigeons are everywhere, but they are not easy to recognize because their behavior is rooted in their very origin. The wild pigeons that we all see in cities are descended from rock pigeons and essentially remain the same birds. They have the same habits, especially those related to reproduction. When it comes to breeding, city pigeons still use reflexes and tribal traditions that are very secretive when it comes to locating their nests.
Wild pigeons love to build their nest on ledges of rocks. In its natural and wild state, the mountain pigeon lives on high cliffs off the sea coast, in the cavities of which he lives most of the year. For example, on the Orkney Islands in Scotland, Great Britain, ornithologists of the 19th century noted that the rock pigeon “is very numerous, breeds in crevices of rocks, but the nests are located at such a depth that it is simply impossible for a person to reach them.”
When do the chicks finally fly out of the nest?
When primitive people spent a lot of time in the caves and around them, even then people were very used to seeing pigeons around them. In fact, excavations of a cave in Gibraltar show that Neanderthals ate pigeons before modern humans reached Europe. Homo sapiens often ate pigeon flesh, for them it was tasty and enjoyable food. Then, in prehistoric times, it is likely that not only pigeons, but also their chicks were often included in their menu.
Today, due to the lack of steep cliffs, rocky cliffs and dirty caves in our cities, the wild dove has to think over everything and build its nest in the most inaccessible and hidden places for humans. It can be church towers, abandoned buildings, places under bridges and other areas where people are rarely likely to. Since we do not often go to such places, we very rarely manage to see the nests of pigeons and the chicks themselves.
You never know for sure when you look at an ordinary pigeon that it could be a disguised chick. It may be a young pigeon who has only recently fledged. Young pigeons are everywhere, but it’s not easy to recognize how many of us really don’t notice the difference with an old pigeon. This is largely due to the fact that the chicks remain in the nest for a very long time: the period from hatching to fledging of the chick lasts more than 40 days, about two times longer than most ordinary birds.
During this time, the parents feed their chicks with regurgitating contents consisting of protein and fat. Thus, when the chicks finally fly out of the nest, they have already fully grown and are practically no different from adult pigeons.
With a keen experienced eye, you can see the feathered, but still a minor pigeon. A distinctive feature of an adult from a young pigeon is a white ring around its neck, which the bird acquires at the age of about 16 weeks.
The chicks have a very fluffy little body and a strange yet modified beak. In the beginning, the chicks are covered with yellow fluff, which they lose before leaving the nest. Pigeon chicks look pretty ugly because they are not at all associated with a grown bird for humans.
Pigeons lay no more than two white eggs on their nest, which is actually a platform of twigs. Another interesting aspect of pigeon breeding is that they nest almost at any time of the year. Unfortunately, many young pigeons do not survive until the first year, but most chicks still survive and turn into beautiful city birds.