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 

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Hi

    I am also in a similar situation now & it's upsetting me so much.

    There is a large grassy area opposite our house where people walk tbeir dogs & I feed about 30 pigeons there every couple of days. Recently a generic letter from the Councils Environmental Department was put through doors on our road about a complaint made about rats and advising residents not to put out excessive amounts of bird food etc. I'm not sure if someone complained about me feeding the pigeons but that was not mentioned in the letter although I do feel someone has complained as I've seen the odd dog walker looking over.

    It has recently caused massive rows with my family who have insisted I stop feeding them & they also think someone has complained about me. The problem is the pigeons roost under next doors solar panels (the neighbours are nice but hate the pigeons & are trying to get the Housing Trust to fix or remove the solar panels to stop them roosting there as they say they *** all over the garden). In the afternoon a few pigeons come to our garden if I've not fed them on the grass where people walk their dogs & look in at me through the window as if to say where is my dinner? It's heartbreaking & I sometimes feel like bursting into to tears. I have been feeding a particular one for 3 years & he is so cheeky & sweet at the same time. I'm worried he will now starve. I know people keep saying they are resourceful & that's what I want to hear but why are there so many starving ones during the pandemic then if that's the case?

    Did your flock eventually move elsewhere? I can't bear them looking in at me as if pleading to be fed and me just ignoring them.
  • Hello Universe 1810,

    I am so sorry you are going through the same heartache and distress I went through regarding the feeding of pigeons; quite frankly the whole issue made me ill.
    The pigeons were even pushing through the door of my cat flap in desperation and I had to catch five of them which had flown up onto my kitchen windowsill. I broke down in tears and as I said the whole issue made me ill and I've grown to dislike the human race even more than I did before.

    The flock reduced in size over time, but they still continue to rest on my roof and did for a time fly down into my garden to peck at the plants, but that is out of my hands and the neighbours have had to put up with it. I found an area to feed the pigeons away from my home but it's not been very successful.
    Firstly I'd like to say that as you have not been named in the letter from the council's environmental department and the green where you feed the pigeons has also not been referred to, then I would continue to feed the pigeon as normal.
    The letter requests that residents don't put out excessive amounts of food, which if not eaten and is left on the ground, can attract rats; it is not asking people to stop feeding the birds altogether. I'm fairly certain that all the food you put down for the pigeons is eaten very quickly with no remnants remaining, so no risk of rats. It was always the case for my pigeons; they never ever left a single seed.
    As for your family, I would tell them to mind their own business; they have no proof someone has made a complaint about you, so take no notice of them. There is no law against feeding wild birds - which is what pigeons are.
    Now regarding your miserable neighbours and the solar panels; you can't stop birds landing in your garden and as you say the pigeons will visit as they're looking for you and wondering why you haven't been feeding them at their regular spot. If the fact the pigeons roost under your neighbour's solar panels and they don't like it, then let them get on with it, it's not your responsibility and the pigeons will find elsewhere to roost. It makes me laugh, people moan about pigeons messing in their gardens (like no other bird does!) but humans make far more mess than any other creature - litter, cigarette ends, chewing gum etc all over the footpaths - plus bird poo is biodegradable and natural.
    I'd also like to say that if you lived in your own house it's a completely different ball game regarding feeding birds in your own garden, but it seems you live in housing trust accommodation, and although there is no law against feeding birds in your garden, they can make life difficult for you. In your case of course, you feed the pigeons on the green every couple of days and not in your garden, so you're not doing anything wrong and I would certainly continue to do so, plus as it is winter time it would be cruel to suddenly cut off their food supply. Stand your ground, at the end of the day you're not breaking any laws.
    It's good to meet a fellow compassionate person who loves pigeons as much as I do.
    Take care x
  • Thank you so much for your reply.

    I am not going to cut off all food supply completely. I'm going to try reduce it gradually. The poor pigeons are trying to survive in such a cruel heartless world. I've nearly broken down because of the thought of them starving to death. I saw them today flying to the usual spot looking for food and I felt so horrible and mean.

    I used to feed them everyday and I reduced it to once every other day. I'll try reduce it more but I'd rather start when the weather gradually warms up.

    Sometimes I feel like people think I'm a loon the way I feed them but I can't help my feelings.
  • The problem with humans is they always want instant fixes. Pigeons were introduced by humans thousands of years ago. If they are a problem then as per usual we caused it. In USA I've heard of some food called OvoControl which basically stops their eggs from hatching but does the pigeon no harm. Why can't they do that here. It's more humane than starving them and I'm sure would massively reduce population numbers. As usual though they probably just want a quick fix that is not expensive.

    These birds have feelings and they are intelligent. They recognise faces if you are good to them. I wish people had more compassion.
  • Hi all! That's all so sad. I am at a similar situation, as I have been feeding the pigeons in a small park since March 2020,, but now people have complained to the Council, because pigeons defecate onto the parked cars near the park. The pigeons keep waiting me every day, but now I must stop. I have already cried a lot, but I guess is nothing I can do. I am thinking to make the pigeons follow me to another bigger park, which is not that far, about 0.5 miles. But how could I do it? I guess there is no way. Thanks.