Life span is highly variable, ranging 3- 15 years in
used for nesting, congregating at night, and shelter in
bad weather. Loafing sites will be nearby to be used
urban roosts. They have lived for 30 years in
by inactive birds during the daytime. Feeding sites
may be several miles away. When pigeons are not
feeding or mating, most of their day is spent cooing,
preening, and sun bathing. Sun bathing is most
common in the morning of cool days.
European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were
Pigeons prefer flat and smooth surfaces on which
introduced into the United States in 1890 when 60
to rest and feed. Unlike most birds, they will feed
were brought to New York City. They rapidly
from rooftops, regardless of height, because they like
expanded into new areas. Today, 140 million starlings
open feeding areas that permit a speedy get-away.
range throughout North America.
They also feed on open ground and occasionally on
ledges. Typical roosting and loafing sites are building
roofs and ledges, cooling towers, monuments, bridges,
and signs. Typical feeding sites are parks, squares,
food loading docks, garbage areas, railroad sidings,
food plants, and wherever people eat outdoors.
Male pigeons are sexually mature at three to four
months of age; females at six months. Pigeons usually
mate for life unless separated by death or accident. If
one partner of a mated pair is lost, the survivor will
re-mate within a few days. After pairing and mating,
nest construction begins.
Pigeons nest on a frail platform of small twigs,
straw, and debris in which they make a slight
depression. Nests are usually located in protected
openings in or on buildings and structures. The male
usually selects the nest site but both adults actually
build the nest, with the male often bringing nest
materials to the female.
Starlings are robin-sized birds that weigh about
One or two creamy white eggs are laid 8-12 days
three ounces. Adults are dark with light speckles on
after mating. (Three or more eggs are sometimes
their feathers in winter; the feathers turn glossy
found in a single nest, but this occurs when two or
purplish-black and green in summer. The bill of both
more hens share one nest.) The eggs are incubated by
sexes is yellow from January to June, and dark at
both parents for roughly 18 days, by the male from
mid-morning through afternoon, and the female the
other times. Young birds are grayish.
rest of the day and evening.
Starlings have relatively short tails and appear
At birth the young pigeons are naked and helpless
somewhat chunky and humpbacked. The wings have a
and fed "pigeon milk," a milky-white fatty substance
triangular shape when stretched out in flight. Starling
regurgitated from the parents' crops. After five days
flight is direct and swift, not rising and falling like
the parents begin mixing grain and other foods with
the pigeon milk, and after 10 days, they switch
completely to whole grains.
Habits of Starlings
During the first week or so, the young double in
Starlings nest in holes or cavities in trees or in
size daily and are full grown in less than a month.
rocks, or in urban areas on buildings, in birdhouses,
They are fledged when they are 37 days old. Average
on power stations and water towers, and other
flight speed is 36 mph. Adult birds can mate again
structures. Starlings average two broods a year with
while the young are still in the nest.
four to seven young per brood. Both parents build the
Pigeons nest during all seasons when conditions
nest, incubate the eggs, and feed the young. The
permit. City pigeons generally remain in one area
young birds leave the nest when they are about three
year-round and produce 10 young per year. Nests that
weeks old. At this time bird mites sometimes abandon
are continually used become solid with droppings,
feathers, debris, and sometimes, dead birds.
Starlings migrate in some parts of the country. As
Module Three Chapter 4, Pg 2