Pigeons are essentially seed, grain and legume eaters, although they will sometimes eat the odd insect, small snail or worm – this is generally in order to obtain calcium or extra protein when breeding.They suck up water unlike most birds, so if you place their beak gently in water (without covering the nostrils) they will drink.
Pigeon parents feed their young on what is termed ‘pigeon milk’. This is not actually like dairy milk, although it is of the same color and consistency.
Baby pigeons can be fed on Kaytee Exact Baby Formula, Egg Food, Natural Flavoured Complan (available in the UK) , or Chick Crumbs that have been soaked in hot (not boiling) water for half an hour, blended and passed through a sieve. In an emergency they can be fed puppy biscuits that have been soaked until they are fluffy.
Unlike other birds, baby pigeons do not gape to be fed. The flutter their wings and squeak, and then are ‘pumped’ food from the parent birds’ crops.
Very young pigeons will have to be fed by syringe or tube.
You can feed an older ‘baby’ pigeon gently opening its beak and inserting the soaked biscuits.
You can make a paste of egg food, putting it in one of those disposable bags used for piping icing. Gently force the pigeons beak open and squeeze some of the paste in slowly. Allow it plenty of time to swallow. Or you can soak the egg food, leave it to stand and then make pellets out of it which can be fed as described above for puppy biscuits.
A simple method of feeding a very young baby pigeon (even just a couple of days old) is the Cut off syringe method!
NOTE: Always allow an adult pigeon time to rehydrate before feeding it.
Sometimes an adult pigeon will be so ill, you will have to feed it as you would a baby. Otherwise offer it pigeon mix (from the pet shop), wild bird seed, popping corn, dried green peas or toasted and crumbled wholemeal bread. It will need water and grit in the cage or other living quarters