Why Do We Never See Baby Pigeons?

They do exist, but you have to know where to look.

This story is brought to you by BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Every spring, down-covered mallard ducklings follow their mother across a pond. Goslings graze along side their Canada Geese parents in waterfront parks. Baby chickens peck the ground soon after hatching. But why do we never see baby pigeons?

Some baby birds—like those down-covered ducks, geese, and chickens—leave their nest shortly after hatching and do a lot of growing up while following their parents around. Others, like pigeons, stay in the nest and depend on their parents to feed and protect them, well into their youth. 

When young Rock Pigeons finally leave the nest, they are full sized with adult feathers, and they look like their parents. So unless you look carefully under a city bridge, you aren’t likely to ever see a baby pigeon.

It’s easy to imagine, when hearing soft cooing sounds like these, why baby pigeons would rather stay in the nest. But the reason is they wait to fledge until they are nearly independent and the task of getting on with life is a bit easier.

To download this podcast, go to birdnote.org.

Calls of Rock Pigeons provided by: The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Sound recordist: A.L. Priori. Producer: John Kessler. Executive Producer: Chris Peterson. Narrator: Michael Stein

Written by Frances Wood

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     March 2015    Narrator: Michael Stein