Head into any city square and it will no doubt be filled with hundreds of head-bobbing pigeons. But despite their strong numbers, you rarely (if ever) see their chicks. бThey are like a modern-day urban unicorn, albeit slightly less majestic and a little moreбgrubby. Fortunately, there are some simple explanations to this dilemma. First of all, the pigeons you come across eating leftover pizza in the streets are most likely feral pigeons
). This subspecies of bird was originally bred from the wild rock doves that roost and breed among sea cliffs and rocky mountain crevasses aroundб Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. Although this subspeciesБ home is now a busy metropolis instead of a rocky coastline, they still tend to nest in the high-up edges and cavities of buildings. БOnly if you can see into a nest would you be likely to see baby pigeons,Б Debra Kriensky, a conservation biologist with NYC Audubon Society, explained to IFLScience.
БBy the time they leave the nest, they are already quite large and resemble adult birds more than they do chicks. Б ItБs also worth considering that pigeon chicks fledge (leave the nest) within just 25 to 32 days. So, unless you catch them in this brief period at the top of a building, then youБre unlikely to see them. A baby rock dove. Cute. Kind of. б (CC BY 2. 0) БPigeons are born naked and need to grow feathers before they can leave the nest,Б addedб Martin Fowlie of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). БThey remain in their nests until they are able to fly like other nest building species. Б Unless you are viewing the baby pigeonб from a window, balcony, or another elevated vantage point, itБs probably not good news if you see one.
It is often a sign that something isn\’t right. БWe do see a fair amount of babies that fall out of the nest before they are big enough to fly and fend for themselves,Б Kriensky said. БIn those cases, chicks should be returned to their nest, a makeshift nest nearby if possible, or brought to a wildlife rehabilitator. Б Run-of-the-mill city pigeons, known as rock doves, build their nests in the nooks and crannies of the concrete cityscape, reminiscent of their native European and Middle Eastern cliffside habitats. Parents typically keep babies, or squabs, hidden and safe until they can survive on their own, usually a month after hatching. As a result, youngsters are almost fully grown and their feather coloring looks nearly identical to an adult\’s by the time they fly the coop, says Karen Purcell, who leads Cornell University\’s Project PigeonWatch, a grassroots study of feather colorings. (Check out the video of a fluffy yellow pigeon emerging from its egg on the project\’s Web site,. ) Purcell suggests a few tricks for spotting the younger birds among the masses.
Pigeons have grayish-brown eyes for the first six months of their life, after which they turn orange or red. And the bit of flesh above a pigeon\’s beak, the cere, is gray when the bird is younger, instead of white. You can also identify juveniles by their behavior, Purcell saysвalthough it\’s hard to tell which birds are acting immature when all of them are pooping on statues.