How closely are (Urban) Pigeons and Seagulls genetically related? Did wild pigeons exist prior to the urban variety existing? And if so, what kind of adaptations have taken place moving from a wild to urban species?

How closely are (Urban) Pigeons and Seagulls genetically related? Did wild pigeons exist prior to the urban variety existing? And if so, what kind of adaptations have taken place moving from a wild to urban species? is a very interesting question right now. Below is the best answer to the How closely are (Urban) Pigeons and Seagulls genetically related? Did wild pigeons exist prior to the urban variety existing? And if so, what kind of adaptations have taken place moving from a wild to urban species? that we assembled. we will definitely make you satisfied!

How closely are (Urban) Pigeons and Seagulls genetically related? Did wild pigeons exist prior to the urban variety existing? And if so, what kind of adaptations have taken place moving from a wild to urban species?

Anna Scrivenger

Votes: 3427

Pigeons and gulls are from two entirely different bird families so not closely related at all.

Rock doves (now called feral pigeons) have lived alongside man for millennia, ever since we provided them with the cliff-like structures (ie buildings) they need, and scraps of discarded food.

The gulls are a more recent addition to our cities; we’ve driven them inland by taking away their natural food on the coast, and chucking food all over our streets.

Petter Häggholm

Votes: 215

How closely are (Urban) Pigeons and Seagulls genetically related? Did wild pigeons exist prior to the urban variety existing? And if so, what kind of adaptations have taken place moving from a wild to urban species?

Urban pigeons are feral domestic pigeons, in turn derived from the wild rock dove.

As you can see, there’s no significant morphological change, and urban pigeons are still considered the same species as wild rock doves. I’d be very unsurprised if they had some hardwired behavioural differences and perhaps changes to digestion, but I’ve no idea if that’s the case.

They’re not at all closely related to gulls of any kind, except insofar as they are both birds.

Alex Netherton

Votes: 7930

Well, I will attempt to answer…

Pigeons and seagulls, aside from being birds, are not closely related. Gulls are from the Order Charadriiformes, the gulls, Skuas and Auks, and pigeons are in the order Columbiformes,, the pigeons and doves. Note that the ordinal level is quite distant genetically.

Wild pigeons existed, and did quite well, thank you very much, long before cities and urban sprawl.

Jessica Taylor

Votes: 401

The pigeons you see in the city were never wild. All of them are descended from domestic pigeons that were kept for livestock, racing, companionship, or carrying messages. They’re the avian equivalent of feral cats. So, like their ancestors, they can have all sorts of different colors.

William Gray

Votes: 2737

Maybe you are not looking closely. I have a bird’s-eye view out my windows in Chelsea, Manhattan, from the twelfth floor and see all kinds of avian life, and raptors rule. Years ago there was a pigeon roost on the cornice of a building within my view but no more as sea-gulls swoop in during the morning from the nearby Hudson River, looking for breakfast. I saw a seagull attack and kill a pigeon in mid-air. Recently a saw a red-tail hawk race past, in the blink of an eye, chasing pigeons. Red-tail hawks are really fast. In the country I once opened the back door just as a red-tail hawk swooped down on a rabbit and kill it. Rabbits scream when they are being killed. Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion. It is all predation.

Von Krieger

Votes: 7130

Because they’re not wild animals.

Pigeons have been domesticated for more than 10,000 years.

Only in the last 100 years or so has their popularity as pets and livestock waned.

They’re cheap to keep and feed, and would easily provide a household with eggs and meat on occasion.

Rooftop pigeon keeping in cities has long since been a thing.

Even pigeon poop was, at one time, considered so valuable that guards were hired to protect the larger pigeon farms, so no one would cart off the poo in the dead of night.

Pigeon poo is such an issue in cities because basically they’re scavenging and getting by on a diet that they were never meant for.

There’s a reason pigeons come in so many different colors and varieties. They’re like dogs; they were bred to look that specific way some time ago.

Pigeons are basically victims of technology.

People don’t need to keep pigeons for communication anymore.

You don’t need to raise pigeons because you can just drive to the store and get meat and eggs for relatively cheap.

Pigeons thrive in cities because that’s where the humans are, and because humans bred them to thrive in captivity, feeding off of human things.

Jason Almendra

Votes: 9972

Ah. They lived on cliffs. They made nests in the nooks & crannies of the cliff faces. Naturally buildings somewhat resemble cliff faces. So the pigeons moved in. I saw windows & ledges in New York with spikes to discourage pigeons from roosting.

What Pigeon Spikes Can Teach Us About People

Nigel Arnot

Votes: 3598

Back in the days of horse-drawn transport, the house sparrow was present in enormous numbers in cities. Today, it is almost extinct in UK city centres (but still abundant in rural communities). Reasons:

I don’t know for a fact that there were once more sparrows than pigeons, but I suspect so simply because they are much smaller birds.

Vinayak Durve

Votes: 9529

Association of Pigeons with man is age-old, probably of several thousand years. This is primarily because Pigeons are residential birds (not migratory) living near the human habitation where they get ample opportunities and places to build nests and feed on the agricultural produce. This was especially so when humans were in the initial stages of village life. With the modern urbanization began, though they lost spaces of building nests within the human residences, they continued their life with humans because of the love of humans towards them (especially because of feeding) and considering them as the symbol of peace, happiness and prosperity.

Mercedes R. Lackey

Votes: 2581

Hobbyists, certainly, but there are several tourist places where they are in use in a clever way.

The one I know for sure of is in New Zealand, where there are water-cave systems you can ride a boat through and marvel at the formations and the fireflies on the ceilings. The boat exits in a deep valley—there is no wifi, and cell towers don’t reach there, and it is a long enough trip back to the start and the gift shop and parking lot that there is time to print the usual “tourist photos” the guides on the boats take. So once you exit, the guides get a pigeon, put the memory card in a little pouch on his back and send him to the gift shop. By the time you get there, your pictures are ready!

Robin Brackman

Votes: 8334

Urban pigeons are actually rock doves and haven’t changed much at all from where they evolved living in the cliffs of North Africa.

Mercedes R. Lackey

Votes: 9849

“City Pigeons,” descended from Rock Doves, have been bred for centuries into many, many color, feather, and behavior types, not unlike what has been done with the domestic cat.

Zuberi Sebu

Votes: 8016

The way they can adapt to find places where to nest,is a big plus for them.They are also good at foraging and eating various food.They also are mostly friendly to people and can be kept at homes.

Georgette Wolf

Votes: 114

What makes pigeons and gulls such successful species?

They happen to like many of the same foods that humans like. So, they can take advantage of all the “ruined” food we throw away in our garbage — or can steal from our plates if they’re aggressive. Neither minds the presence of humans enough to be too skittish the way that many native songbirds are.

Humans are so successful that any animals who can live with us or exploit us are likely to be successful too.

Abhas Singh

Votes: 4340

This act of bobbing the head is not only observed in chicken or pegions but in atleast 8 bird families. Several theories have been put forward for explaining the act. The following excerpt from the blog writtn by Mr. Pete Wedderburn would suffice-

The subject was analysed by a Canadian scientist in 1978 , using a high speed camera to measure the movement of a pigeon’s head, breast, wingtip and foot, when:

(i) walking on the ground,

(ii)when walking on a treadmill,

(iii) when being

carried by a person who is walking along.

Firstly, by closely examining the bird walking on the ground, he confirmed the precise nature of the movement involved. This rhythmic action of the head bob involves a rapid forward ‘thrust’ of the head and what appears to be a slower backward movement. However, the backward movement of the head is an illusion, as the head in fact stays stationary relative to the bird’s surroundings, while the body actually ‘walks past it’. This backward moving phase would be better described as a ‘relative head-holding’ phase, where the head is held (almost) stationary relative to the bird’s surroundings.

When the pigeons walked on a treadmill (which must have taken some time to train) the head bobbing stopped, since the pigeon’s body was not moving relative to its surroundings. When the person carried the pigeon while walking, the thrust and relative head-holding phases reappeared as the pigeon was again moving relative to its surroundings.Other scientists took this work further, training birds to walk on the ground when blindfolded. These birds did not bob their heads, further confirming that the head bob is prompted by seeing the surrounding environment moving relative to the bird. So why do birds use this thrust and relative head-holding action? The best guess is that it allows them to more clearly observe their surroundings for predators. The relative head holding phase provides a more stable picture; it would be far more difficult to identify very subtle movements of a cat if the bird’s eyes were moving relative to their surroundings. This is easy to show. Ask a willing assistant to stand with a bright object in their hand (representing a predator) while you stand 10m away. See if you can detect when your assistant moves the object just a few centimetres (about 5 cm is observable).

Ask them to repeat this while you are running parallel to them and you will see it is nearly impossible to identify when the bright object is being moved this small amount.

The head bob offers another advantage to birds:

since their eyes are on either side of their heads, they have little binocular overlap (where both eyes can see the same object) resulting in poor depth vision. When head-bobbing, objects further away will seem to move more compared to objects that are close-up. (Try holding your finger in front of you and move your head from side to side, and you’ll see what i mean.) This is called “motion parallax” and it allows birds to judge distances more effectively.

Joanne Lindstrand

Votes: 4484

What is the point of city pigeons?

You might as well ask what is the point of dogs, or Pike’s Peak, or human beings. Pigeons exist. They live in cities because food is abundant. They can be a bit of a nuisance to humans, but humans are a nuisance to other humans as well (home owners’ associations come to mind.) Sorry, but the world doesn’t exist solely for the convenience of human beings.

Bruce Dyer

Votes: 3500

Thank you, Charles Raisor, for your question: Can homing pigeons survive in the wild?

Yes, homing pigeons or racing pigeons can survive in the “wild” but by wild I mean in urban areas or rural barns, not forests. Homing pigeons developed from the wild rock doves. Some were found to be capable of using their bearings to return to places. After humans “domesticated” them they used them to carry messages, for example from the site of a new rail line or a battlefield back to their home lofts. Likely the most famous homing pigeon was Cher Ami (now stuffed and mounted at the Smithsonian) who saved the “Lost Battalion of the Argonne” from shelling by their own troops. Cher Ami: The Pigeon that Saved the Lost Battalion Today homing pigeons are mostly used as sport birds known as racing pigeons where many lofts compete against each other to see who has the fastest bird. The average racing bird can fly at about 50 miles per hour.

Well, competitions are great fun. No one is entirely sure how the birds orient themselves to find their homes. There have been suggestions that they use the position and angle of the sun to navigate or possibly the magnetic fields of the Earth. A recent suggestion has been that homing pigeons use low frequency infrasound, inaudible to human ears, until they pick up the signature sound of their home loft and then fly towards it. As with humans and many other species, once close to home the birds also rely on visual landmarks such as water towers, the shapes of water bodies they’ve flown over before, or anything else that they recognize, How Do Homing Pigeons Find Home?

Of course not all pigeons make it home. Almost invisible hydro lines can shear off a bird’s head or wing and hawks over wild terrain also take a toll, plus severe storms can affect their ability to navigate. Every race sees a number of lost pigeons. With hawks and owls in forested areas, pigeons remaining there are likely to be caught and eaten. However, lost birds that can make it to farmers’ barns or urban areas can find food and shelter. It isn’t hard for them to live off the land. They can pick up seeds near mills and silos or join urban flocks who have found established food sources, and get grit for their crops (to digest food) anywhere where there are loose small stones.

However, some who regain their strength, especially after being downed by a storm, will fly home late from a race. Others will remain confused and be clueless about how to get where they were supposed to go. They may live with wild pigeons or they may find another pigeon fancier’s loft and go into it in the hope of staying and getting regular food. When I was flying in Peterborough, ON, I had CU 60 OWEN SOUND 7, a “silver” we called Aunt Margaret come to stay. No idea why she failed to go home but it wasn’t that she wasn’t a sharp bird mentally. Many of her descendants flew for me and performed quite well. I remember a big black cock bird we called “Herminius” (a name of a character in the poem Horatius at the Bridge) who also came to live with me. He was from Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. His descendants were okay as flyers but none were outstanding. In each case I used their identification bands to find their registered owners, but neither wanted the birds back, reasoning that if they couldn’t or wouldn’t come home on their own, they were of no use for either racing or breeding.

If you see pigeons in a park, on the pavement or somewhere else in a town or city and spot a bird with a leg band, that will be a living, breathing example of a homing pigeon who failed to find home but is now foraging for itself in the wild.

Mercedes R. Lackey

Votes: 1222

You are totally incorrect. There are baby pigeons everywhere. Pigeons are one of the most prolific bird species on the planet.

Just try doing an image search for “pigeon nest” and you will see how wrong you are.

Michael Lush

Votes: 9811

Why are pigeons evolutionarily better suited for urban environments than are ravens?

I think it maybe a matter of diet, crow are mostly carnivorous, whereas pigeons are mostly vegetarian and the city environment probably provides more starch.

I also learn that wood pigeons produce milk! (in their crop) apparently its pretty nutritious as “Young common wood pigeons swiftly become fat, as a result of the crop milk they are fed by their parents. This is an extremely rich, sweet fluid that is produced in the adult birds’ crops during the breeding season.” Wikipedia

Alex Netherton

Votes: 6659

At what size do pigeons begin to populate cities?

What do you mean? At what size do pigeons fly off and join the throngs in the city, or what size town is needed to have pigeons?

As Frank Fontana said below, they can be out of the next in like 6 weeks and join their parents in the pigeon hordes in the city at that time.

At what size of town do pigeons start populating a town? I would imagine at different sizes of town in different places. I have seen small town with a heavy agricultural base, or rail traffic with grain hoppers, and pigeons are right there, but larger towns in wooded or open country, and not so much.

Sharon Goldstein

Votes: 921

When did pigeons first grow to prefer urban lives?

Pigeons are doves. Doves are cliff-dwellers. Large cities are loaded with artificial cliffs, i.e., skyscrapers. And that’s why the pigeons all moved to the Big City.

Mika Isomäki

Votes: 4089

Are the effects of lockdown liable to starve urban animals like foxes, squirrels, pigeons, and other wild birds?

I guess all of those species are extremely adaptable to change their style of living and therefore cope well also in future near urban environment. And they always have a chance to move further away in the rural area, but I guess they have already gotten too comfortable for moving out. They might get to closer contact with humans than before.

Starving is not an option for those wild animals at this moment since there has only been a few months lockdown but it might get tougher if lockdown continues for another three months. Those animals would appreciate some help in that case.

Surya Vanamali

Votes: 8748

The life of a pigeon in a city is brutal and short. They don’t die in on their own. There are simply too many predators. Cats, dogs, bigger birds like eagles and hawks etc.

Those that do die of other sudden causes are efficiently eaten up by the scavengers like rats, cats, foxes and possums.

And finally pigeons that sense their death take refuge in places like ducts and building ledges, which perhaps unconsciously remind them of their ancestral lairs in the caves and cliffsides of Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. This makes a dying pigeon inconspicuous.

Some pigeons also look for dark places that are hard to reach by both their predators and humans alike. If you want to see dead pigeons in a city, look at dark attics, warehouses and ventilation systems. They are pigeon graveyards.


Douglas Porter

Votes: 5394

I saw a seagull eating a dead pigeon once, why would seagulls do that 0?

You were expecting maybe that it would eat it alive?

Seagulls aren’t especially related to pigeons (other than that they’re both basically rats with wings) so there’s nothing cannibalistic about a seagull eating a pigeon; they’re both birds, but then sheep and humans are both mammals.

LeRoy Tabb

Votes: 3320

Why haven’t predators evolved to proliferate in cities and feast on pigeons?

“Why haven’t predators evolved to proliferate in cities and feast on pigeons?”

They have. Several years ago I was walking in downtown Philadelphia. When I happened to look up, I saw two birds high in the sky. I saw one bird suddenly swoop down, smashing into the other. The hit bird (a pigeon) was helplessly falling while the predator (a Peregrine Falcon) circled, grabbed the falling pigeon and flew off.

How Peregrine Falcons Thrive in Cities

Doug Freyburger

Votes: 3287

Are urban pigeons observably evolving?

The color variation of feral pigeons has become wider in my lifetime. There are more piebald and albino pigeons and the grey mottled color scheme is less standard. Some of this would have come from interbreeding with escaped domesticated pigeons.

Karen J Gray

Votes: 3689

European settlers came to the Americas bringing all sorts of useful seeds, plants, & animals, including Rock Doves, and that is where all those pigeons came from.

The Rock dove was here by the 1600s and it thrived. Plenty of them escaped and became established in the wild as ferals and today, there are millions and millions of them.

They sure didn’t become common anytime recently. They’ve been here for centuries and large towns & cities provide near ideal habitat for them.

Window ledges, rooftops and balconies mimic the rock ledges their ancestors perched and nested on, as can easily be seen if you look. Food they can eat is very clearly abundant, since their numbers never seem to decline.

Sanjeev Nalavade

Votes: 4464

The pigeons which we see in town & cities today,are domestic or feral pigeons, descendants of wild rock pigeons. Pigeons happen to be world’s first bird to be domesticated. It is believed that they were domesticated around 10k years ago. The original habitat of rock pigeons was & is, the rocky facies, especially cliffs. When humans started building huge structures from rocks,like fortifications,forts,castles, mansions etc.these structures provided cliff-like habitats (a kind of parallel habitat).So some wild population probably shifted to these new urban habitats. Cities also provided them safety, security & abundant food.This initially happened during the days of ancient civilizations,the Mesopotamian & the Nile. Spreading of civilizations, followed by urbanization made pigeons stay in urban areas on permanent basis. They are now an integral part of the urban ecosystem,may at times becoming pest.

Nan Waldman

Votes: 9303

Last time I was in Venice, Italy at the Piazza San Marco, the pigeon population was out of control. “Please don’t feed the pigeons,” a local implored, “They are like flying rats.” I saw Hitchcock’s The Birds. I had no intention of reliving any part of that movie with swarming pigeons in Italy.

One way pigeons have adapted to city environments is that they don’t have to hunt for food in places where tourists feed them, or where trash is available for the scavenging. They seem to eat practically anything.

Crows will eat pigeon eggs, though, so pigeons seem to avoid places where crows have staked their territory in some sort of acquiescence to the crows’ superior size and probable superior intelligence. There are no pigeons in my urban LA neighborhood, but we have many murders of crows.

Elizabeth Goldberg

Votes: 3388

What attracts pigeons to urban living more so than other birds?

Pigeons (which are actually Rock Doves) are descended from a cliff-dwelling species that nests in the open, not in forest. Cities and towns therefore provide prime nesting sites (on ledges, under bridges, etc). They are opportunistic feeders, and will eat nearly anything. The more people are around, the more scraps and trash there will be lying around for them to find.

I once saw two pigeons fighting over a hot dog in Philadelphia.

Shan Kothari

Votes: 5294

Urban Ecology: Where are all the dead pigeons and rats?

Pigeons and rats in cities have plenty of natural predators: Owls, hawks, cats, falcons, and many others. Many of these animals – especially the birds – tend to swallow their smaller prey (like rats) whole, or in large chunks. That’s part of why you don’t see the bones lying around. The ubiquity of pigeons in New York City supports a growing red-tailed hawk population, of which the most famous is Pale Male. (Many other cities have been introducing predators as a form of wildlife control.) Some people are even advocating human consumption of pigeons. [1][2]

Once a small city animal dies, scaveng

Marty DeHart

Votes: 7426

How did pigeons make their ways to cities? How do they reproduce so quickly?

What we call pigeons in cities are the species Columba livia, common name of Rock Dove. In the wild these birds favor coastal cliff as homesites and originated in southern Asia and maybe the Middle East. There’s evidence of domestication of pigeons going back many thousands of years (mostly for food, but also maybe pets and as homing pigeons), so the species has associated with humans for hundreds of thousands of bird generations. Most populations in the world are feral, meaning at some point birds got away from their human keepers and set up housekeeping on their own. All the color variations

Sutrisno Fatso

Votes: 439

Wild Food: Can you safely eat urban pigeons?

Handled, cleaned and cooked well, it should be no problem.

The risks you might get are transmitable diseases from flea bites or parasites. Toxins, if any, will be minimal as anything in amounts that is dangerous to a grown adult should either kill, or make the pigeon very sick. And you shouldn’t be eating sick or dead animals ( non slaughtered healthy life animal) in the first place.

So with proper handling( maybe with additional week or two of fattening them), cleaning ( don’t want to be ingesting plastics and metals do you?), and cooking ( worms ahoy!) They should be fine.

Peter Kaye

Votes: 9175

Do carrier pigeons still exist?

Yes, absolutely, they were just your normal everyday homing pigeons, and there are still plenty about, I doubt if they carry anything important today though.

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