Will flock of pigeons starve when feeding abruptly stops?

Please can anyone offer me some advice/reassurance on the following matter?

I’ve been feeding a fairly large flock of pigeons (about 30) on our shed roof for the last 5 years or so, they come every day and I feed them in the morning and at teatime and sometimes a bit extra in between. I knew some of the neighbours in my row were not overly fond of them but they’d never made a complaint until recently, when I was approached by two neighbours who demanded I stop feeding them as they were tired of their cooing and flying over their gardens. I told them it wasn’t illegal to feed them and ignored them.
A week ago I received a letter from the local council telling me they’d received a complaint and requested I stop feeding the pigeons immediately, obviously the neighbours had reported me. I was very upset but knew that if I was to persist in feeding them it would lead to more trouble with the council and neighbours, so I had no alternative but to stop feeding them.
Today is the seventh day I haven’t fed them and the flock have been sitting on my roof most of the day, right up until 7.30pm at night, waiting to be fed. They are even flying down into my garden and sitting on my living room windowsill looking in at me, something they've never done before. I’m totally heartbroken and distressed and can’t bear to see them looking down at me, in fact I'm avoiding going into my back garden as it's causing me upset to see them there.
I’m worried sick they will starve as I don’t know where else they will go for food, they've been so reliant on me feeding them for so long, it's such a stressful situation and it's cutting me up to see them.
I'm sure a gradual reduction in feeding would have been the best option, but the council won't go for that.
How long will it take before they eventually get the message the food has stopped and fly off and are they likely to starve due to the cessation of their regular food supply?
Any help or advice will be gratefully received.

  • Hello Gillian, I'm sorry to hear about the trouble with the neighbours regarding your feeding of pigeons and although I completely understand the pleasure it brings you, it can bring problems as numbers of pigeons build up. You have no need to worry about them starving as pigeons, like most other birds, are very resourceful and will eventually cotton on to the fact that there is no easy food anymore and they will find food elsewhere either at other feeders or feeding on discarded scraps or on natures own food supply. If there were one or two birds I'm sure it would have been fine to keep feeding them and there would be little or no complaints but with pigeons the flocks will grow when there is a reliable source of food and then it can bring problems with noise, mess and on occasion vermin. It will be natural for the pigeons to hang around a while as it is their habit at the moment but they will find other foods as birds have a keen eye and communication skills to spot food. Meanwhile, I hope you can perhaps continue to enjoy watching birds in your local area and parks. So, please don't worry the pigeons will starve, I can guarantee they won't ! Just takes time for them to adjust to non feeding regime and they'll head off elsewhere.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hello Hazel,
    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post; I've been feeling quite poorly from with upset of not being able to feed the pigeons.
    I am so very relieved to know they won't starve (as I was told would happen by a local pigeon fancier), it's so hard to see them hanging around waiting to be fed,, but if I know they'll eventually give up I can cope with it. I'm not quite sure where they'll go for food; I was going to try to feed them elsewhere but I don't know where they go to roost, as that would have been ideal. They were here until 7.45pm this evening bless them.
    Thanks again for your help and reassurance, I very much appreciate it.

    Take care,
  • As Hazel says there is no way that the pigeons will starve they are very resourceful birds.Are they Wood Pigeons ore Feral Pigeons ? If they are feral they may also be getting food at someones pigeon loft nearby.I'm afraid not everyone appreciates birds like us birders but that is improving in recent times as during lockdown it is a simple pleasure we can all safely do.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Hi Pete,
    Thanks for your reply to my post.
    I'm glad you're also of the opinion the pigeons won't starve, They are feral pigeons; it's day ten of not feeding them and they're still hanging around and are flying down into my back yard and coming right up to the back door. One of them even hopped in through our cat flap today which we have held open as one of our cats hasn't got the knack of using it yet; I couldn't believe what I was seeing. If they see me in the kitchen or living room they flock to the windowsill and there doesn't seem to be any let up as yet.
    I don't know of any lofts in the area; do you know what else they live on? They were even pecking at my pansies in the back yard, I felt so sorry for them.

  • In reply to GillianH-501653478:

    Well out in the fields they will probably eat the same as the Wood Pigeons which is pretty much seeds and young plants. This is why farmers try to dissuade pigeons from feeding on their young plants,a flock of pigeon s of any type can decimate a field of young plants hence the farmers use of bird scarers. Back to your original query,they are survivors which is why we see lots of them,for me thjeir call is typical of the fields around here.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can