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Hi everyone,

I'm writing because there's a flock of a dozen or so pigeons that has lived in an underpass near my apartment in Chicago since before I first arrived in this neighborhood a few years ago. They've always been looked after by an older woman that spreads seed for them and cleans up after them with a broom and jug of water.

I recently noticed that at least a dozen (somewhat desperate) messages were left scrawled in chalk on the walls and floor of the underpass imploring readers to a) not begrudge these pigeons their home, and b) to feed them and clean up after them. I assume these were written by the woman who used to look after them, who has obviously had to leave the community for whatever reason. Confirming this assumption, there is obviously no seed being spread for these pigeons now. They mill about the area that used to have seed spread out on it and find nothing.

My question, then, is whether these pigeons are likely to go find food elsewhere, as I'm hoping they will, or are they likely to instead stay where they are and wait for someone to come back to feed them? Are they domesticated at this point or are they likely to understand that they need to move on?

I don't really have the resources or time to take care of them on my own, and I'm likely leaving this neighborhood myself soon, perhaps by the end of the year, so I feel this would only be kicking the can down the road. But I also don't know if I could stand just watching them stand there and starve while awaiting for their caregiver to return.

What should I do, and what are these pigeons likely to do? Any help would be much appreciated, as I'm starting to stress out a lot regarding their situation!

Thanks all,

Zach
 

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Wild rock doves (as opposed to feral city pigeons) live on rocky cliff faces where plants don't grow. Every day they fly to nearby fields to eat seeds mostly, and a few leaves, and the occasional insect. Feral city pigeons are the same species, and they have the same instincts. They may nest under a bridge, but they didn't pick the site because they thought food grows on concrete or asphalt. The adult birds there definitely know where else they can find food nearby, and they can see for 25 miles in every direction when they are up in the air. Normally the very young birds would follow their parents' flock and learn from the example set by the older birds. But if the very young birds are accustomed to someone scattering seed on the pavement below the bridge, the young birds might just wait there instead of following their parents to find food. After a few days of not eating they may become malnourished and ill. The best thing that anyone could do for those young birds would be to slowly scatter a trail of seeds from under the bridge to the nearest field of grass, preferably in the morning after sunrise so that they can see what is happening, and follow the trail of seeds. Get them accustomed to looking elsewhere for food, and especially to look in areas where plants are growing in soil. Once they are out from under the bridge and flying, they can see fields of grass all around.
 

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Hello,

Yes, Pigeons are smart and resilient, they will definitely eventually move on to find food elsewhere.
They are still not considered domesticated but they will understand.

Thanks for caring
 
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