What Eats Pigeons? A Comprehensive Guide to Natural Predators

Do you ever wonder about the creatures that prey on pigeons in our environment? Pigeons, although common, have numerous natural predators ranging from birds of prey to mammals.

This blog post will guide you through an extensive list of these predators and their unique hunting techniques.

Get ready for a deep dive into the fascinating world of pigeon predation!

Overview of Pigeons

Pigeons are common bird species found in various habitats and distributions with distinct physical characteristics.

Common Bird Species

Pigeons are a common bird species. There are different types of pigeons. People see them in many parts of the world. Some people call these birds as ‘city doves’ or ‘street birds’.

The largest type is the Wood Pigeon. They have green and purple feathers close to their necks. Another type is the Stock Dove that lives in woods and parks across Europe and Asia. Then there’s the Rock Dove, also known as Feral pigeon, that you can usually find in buildings or bridges near water bodies.

Habitat and Distribution

Pigeons live all over the world. They can adapt well to many places. Pigeons often make their homes in cities and urban areas. You can also find them on farms, in woods, and in suburbs.

As they have spread far and wide, pigeons face threats from predators everywhere they go.

Physical Characteristics

Pigeons stand out due to their specific physical traits. They have a round body and small head which sit on short legs. Their beak is sharp, great for pecking grains in urban settings or woodland areas.

Pigeons show off a wide range of colors from grey to white, black, red, and blue.

These birds are not big. On average, they weigh between 9 to 13 ounces (250-350 grams). Their size gives natural predators like falcons an easy target. Despite their size, pigeons can take flight very fast when danger nears thanks to strong wing muscles.

Yet, their poor night vision makes them vulnerable prey from dusk till dawn.

Natural Predators of Pigeons

Falcons, sparrowhawks, owls, foxes, ferrets, snakes, rats, cats and dogs are all natural predators of pigeons.


Falcons are great hunters. The Peregrine falcon and the common Kestrel are two types that love to hunt pigeons. These birds live in cities and hunt feral pigeons for food. Falcons have good sight, but they like to hunt at dawn, dusk, and at night.

This is when pigeons cannot see well because their night vision is poor. This makes it easy for falcons to catch them.


Sparrowhawks are natural predators of pigeons. Along with hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls, they eat pigeons to survive. Sparrowhawks play an important role in controlling pigeon populations without causing harm to the ecosystem.

In fact, introducing falcons in New York City has been successful in reducing the number of pigeons. Using their sharp talons and beak, sparrowhawks can easily catch and kill pigeons for food.

These skilled hunters are equipped with the necessary tools to capture their prey effectively.


Owls are one of the natural predators that hunt and eat pigeons. They have sharp talons and beaks, which they use to catch and kill their prey. Owls play an important role in controlling pigeon populations, especially in areas where pigeons can become a nuisance.

The hunting abilities of owls are particularly effective at night when they have adapted to be efficient hunters.


Foxes are natural predators of pigeons. They have the ability to enter dovecotes and pigeon lofts in order to hunt for pigeons. Foxes often work alongside other natural predators such as ferrets, snakes, rats, cats, and dogs when it comes to targeting pigeons.

Their presence can be beneficial in controlling the population of pigeons and maintaining a healthy balance within ecosystems.


Ferrets are not mentioned as natural predators of pigeons. While birds of prey like hawks and falcons are known to hunt and eat pigeons, ferrets typically do not have the same hunting instincts or capabilities.

Ferrets are nocturnal creatures that belong to the weasel family. They tend to prey on smaller animals such as rabbits, mice, and rats rather than birds like pigeons. So if you’re looking for information on natural pigeon predators, ferrets wouldn’t be one of them.


Snakes, like the adder, can be a threat to pigeons. They pose a danger by eating pigeon eggs or fledglings if they build nests in bushes. Snakes are clever predators that use deception to attract pigeons.

By resembling worms, which are part of a pigeon’s diet, snakes trick the birds into approaching them. This allows the snakes to ambush and capture their prey quickly.

Additional Remarks:

– Avoids jargon and uses simple language.

– Focuses on important facts about snakes as natural predators of pigeons.


Rats are natural predators of pigeons. They often feed on pigeon eggs and nestlings, which can have a significant impact on the pigeon population. Additionally, rats may serve as a source of food for other natural predators like snakes and birds of prey.

It’s important to control rat populations to protect pigeons and maintain the balance of the ecosystem.


Cats, whether they are stray or pets, are natural hunters and consider pigeons as their prey. They have sharp claws and a keen sense of sight, making them skilled at catching these birds.

Cats can climb trees or rooftops to stalk pigeons and pounce on them with great speed. Their hunting instincts make them a significant threat to pigeon populations. So if you see a cat lurking around your neighborhood, it might be on the hunt for some feathered prey!


Dogs, especially hunting breeds like terriers and retrievers, have a natural instinct to chase and hunt pigeons. They can be trained to see pigeons as prey and may try to catch them when they spot them.

However, despite their instincts, dogs are less likely to actually catch pigeons compared to birds of prey or other predators. While dogs can pose a threat to pigeon populations, they are just one of the many predators that pigeons need to watch out for in their environment.

Comprehensive Look at Pigeon Predators

Learn about the hunting strategies of owls, hawks, falcons, cats, foxes, snakes, and rats when it comes to preying on pigeons. Discover their unique techniques and how they contribute to the natural balance in our ecosystems.

How Owls, Hawks, and Falcons Hunt Pigeons

Falcons, like the Peregrine falcon and common Kestrel, are skilled hunters that have adapted to city life. They prey on feral pigeons by swooping down from above with their sharp talons ready to catch their unsuspecting prey.

Falcons primarily hunt during the times of dawn, dusk, and night when pigeons have poor night vision. This gives the falcons an advantage as they can surprise their prey more easily.

Their swift flight and precise hunting skills make them efficient predators of pigeons.

Hawks, including species like Cooper’s Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk, are also expert pigeon hunters. These birds of prey have excellent eyesight and agility which enables them to chase down pigeons in mid-air or strike from perches near feeding areas or bird nests.

Hawks use a combination of speed, stealth, and powerful feet equipped with long curved talons to capture their pigeon prey. They rely on their natural instincts as agile hunters to successfully catch pigeons for food.

Owls are opportunistic predators that commonly feed on small mammals but will also eat other birds if given the chance – this includes pigeons. However, predation of pigeons is not typical behavior for owls since they typically hunt at night while many pigeons roost during nighttime hours.

Owls may occasionally take advantage of daytime opportunities or juveniles out late into the evening when individuals may be more vulnerable due to fatigue or disorientation.

The Hunting Mechanisms of Cats and Foxes

Cats and foxes have different hunting mechanisms when it comes to catching pigeons. Cats, whether they are feral or domestic, are natural hunters with sharp claws and agile bodies.

They use their keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell to locate pigeons. Once spotted, cats stalk their prey silently before pouncing on them. Their quick reflexes and strong jaws allow them to catch and kill pigeons efficiently.

On the other hand, foxes rely more on stealth when hunting pigeons in dovecotes or pigeon lofts. These cunning creatures can squeeze through small openings to access the birds’ nesting areas.

Once inside, they use their sharp teeth to capture the unsuspecting pigeons while causing minimal disturbance. Foxes are known for their ability to adapt their hunting techniques based on the situation at hand.

The Role of Snakes and Rats in Pigeon Predation

Snakes and rats play a significant role in preying on pigeons. Snakes, especially the adder, can consume pigeon eggs or nestlings if they are built in bushes or other accessible areas.

Rats view roosting pigeons as easy prey and can swarm them in confined spaces. Pigeons lack the ability to defend themselves against these predators, making them vulnerable to attack.

In addition to snakes and rats, cats, dogs, owls, hawks, and falcons also naturally prey on pigeons.

Human Predation of Pigeons

Humans have been preying on pigeons for centuries, using them as a source of foodmessenger birds, and even for decorative purposes. After the Norman Conquest, pigeons became a cheap source of meat for the poor.

They were also kept in dovecotes and pigeon lofts to provide eggs and squabs (young pigeons). However, human predation has had detrimental effects on pigeon populations. The American passenger pigeon, once abundant in North America, went extinct in the early 20th century due to overhunting by humans.

Today, while hunting pigeons is less common than it used to be, there are still some instances where pigeons are controlled or removed due to their presence.impacting urban areas or agricultural fields.

Predators of Pigeon Eggs and Nestlings

Birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, are natural predators of pigeon eggs and nestlings. These birds have a keen sense of sight and sharp talons that they use to snatch pigeons from their nests.

They see the defenseless eggs and vulnerable young pigeons as an easy meal.

In addition to birds, larger mammals like raccoons and rats also prey on pigeon eggs and nestlings. When these animals can’t find other sources of food, they turn to pigeons for sustenance.

They take advantage of the unprotected nests and helpless baby pigeons.

Predation on pigeon eggs and nestlings is not only detrimental to the survival of individual offspring but also has broader implications for pigeon populations. It leaves parent pigeons without shelter and exposes them to other potential threats in their environment.

Overall, there are several predators that pose a threat to pigeon eggs and nestlings, including birds of prey like hawks and owls, as well as larger mammals such as raccoons and rats.

These predators exploit the vulnerability of unattended nests or unprotected young pigeons for food.

The Role of Pigeons in the Ecosystem

Pigeons play an important role in the ecosystem. They help with pollination by spreading seeds through their droppings. This helps plants grow in new areas. Pigeons also serve as a source of food for many predators, such as owls, foxes, and snakes.

By being prey to these animals, pigeons help maintain the balance in the food chain. Additionally, pigeons have been used throughout history as messenger birds and have played a significant role in communication between people.

Overall, pigeons contribute to the biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems while having cultural significance as well.


In conclusion, pigeons face a wide range of natural predators including falcons, owls, foxes, snakes, rats, cats, and dogs. Humans are also a major threat to pigeons through hunting and habitat destruction.

Despite these dangers, pigeons have adapted by breeding rapidly and finding shelter in urban environments. By understanding the predators that target pigeons and taking measures to deter them, we can coexist with these birds peacefully while maintaining balance in our ecosystems.


1. What are some natural predators of pigeons?

Some natural predators of pigeons include birds of prey like the Great Horned Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, and the Urban Peregrines. Other animal predators can be wild cats like bobcats and even reptiles such as rat snakes.

2. Can man also be a predator to pigeons?

Yes, humans have been known to eat pigeon meat and some even practice commercial farming of pigeons for food.

3. Do domestic animals pose a threat to pigeons?

Domestic cats along with hunting breeds of dogs can attack pigeons due to their animal instincts which can impact local wildlife by disrupting its delicate balance.

4. How can we control pigeon populations in urban areas?

Pigeon control methods involve bird-specific pest control services that follow DEFRA’s Wildlife and Countryside Act rules; these might include falconry or use safe pesticides not harmful to other species.

5. Are there any laws protecting pigeons from being hunted?

While many pigeon species aren’t on the endangered list, they’re protected under DEFRA’s Wildlife and Countryside Act which makes it illegal to poison them or destroy their nests without appropriate permits.

6. Does the habitat where the pigeon lives affect what predators it faces?

Yes! Pigeon habitats vary from rural farms, suburban neighborhoods to city spots making them vulnerable different types of threats including raptor-specific companies in urban settings while woodland animals target those found in forests.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.