People have been eating pigeons for thousands of years, in many parts of the world pigeons are considered a delicacy, but there are big differences between city pigeons and the ones served at different restaurants. Although there are millions of city pigeons living across the world they are mostly considered a pest rather than a food source. They often carry diseases and due to their diet city pigeons can be extremely harmful if eaten.
In theory yes you can eat city pigeons, although they tend to carry several diseases, parasites, poisons and they also have a chemical buildup in their body due to the pollution. If you want to stay safe then it is not a good idea to eat city pigeons, although during survival situations a lot of people have eaten city pigeons in the past. During WW2 a lot of people have found themselves without any food in the cities, and they have survived by eating city pigeons.
The common doves are called Columba Olivia or Rock Doves, and they have been brought to the US from Europe as a source of food. Back in those days, people had very little knowledge of how diet affects the human body. Today however we know that city pigeons are not safe to eat as they carry diseases and they are fairly unhygienic. Although you can eat pigeons or squab in a lot of restaurants but the pigeons which are raised to be eaten are not the same as city pigeons.
The main problem with city pigeons is that they live in cities, which means that the higher the pollution of a city is the more dangerous it is to eat city pigeons. While pigeons are eating food from the streets they will also ingest a lot of chemicals that are found on the streets, in addition to bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. Pigeons often eat from the same place as rats do and this leads to a dangerous situation as rats tend to carry a lot of diseases that can easily infect pigeons.
Pigeons which live in the wild eat seeds, grains, insects, earthworms, and fruits, on the other hand, pigeons living in a city eat whatever they can find, and oftentimes directly from the polluted asphalt. If you want to know what foods last forever then check out my recent article Survival foods that last forever ( Top 28 ).
People who eat city pigeons expose themselves to serious health risks, not only the pigeons might carry some disease but their droppings can cause serious health issues. The diseases which can be found in the pigeon droppings are histoplasmosis, psittacosis, and cryptococcosis. City pigeons are not the cleanest birds, as they will often eat food thrown away by humans, and while they are eating they will come in contact with other pests like rats and rodents.
The chemical buildup in some city pigeons can be so high that it makes a person sick if he eats the pigeon, although this mostly depends on the local pollution. City pigeons will often drink water from fountains and from sewers as well, which is not ideal if you want to eat them.
A lot of city pigeons tend to have parasites like red blood mite and the pigeon tick, and these mites and ticks have no problem surviving on a human. These mites and ticks also carry several diseases that will have a serious health effect on most people. Cooking city pigeons is a good way to get rid of these mites and ticks, but some viruses and diseases found in them are extremely hard to kill, so why risk it. If you want to know how you can preserve meat then check out my recent article How to preserve meat ( Top 12 Methods ).
For the most part, getting rid of pigeons with poisons is legal although regulated. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act which is meant to protect native birds doesn’t apply for feral pigeons as they are not native to the country. In a lot of cities, you will see spikes on buildings that are placed there to get rid of the pigeons, and in some cases, the business owners will poison the pigeons. The problem with poisoning pigeons is that it is not that effective.
Some pigeons will have no problem ingesting small amounts of poisons and with time their body will be able to resist these poisons. The problem is that if you eat city pigeons you might accidentally get poisoned, and depending on your health condition this can be rather fatal.
City pigeons are not like the squab which is served in restaurants, squabs are raised for their meat and they do tend to have a special diet. City pigeons on the other hand will have no problem living in a polluted city, and sooner or later chemicals will start to accumulate in their body. In some cases, these chemicals will alter their DNA, and the newly hatched city pigeons will have birth defects, although these rarely survive.
Can you eat pigeon eggs?
Pigeon eggs are considered a delicacy in many cultures, and yes you can eat them but only if they come from a healthy bird. Eating the eggs of city pigeons is not a good idea, as these often have chemicals accumulated in them and some of them also tend to carry diseases. People who are selling pigeon eggs usually raise pigeons for their meat and eggs, and these pigeons are a lot healthier than city pigeons.
As you can see city pigeons are edible but eating them is not a good idea as they tend to carry a lot of diseases. There are a lot of restaurants selling squabs which is pigeon meat but these pigeons are not city pigeons and they tend to be raised specially for their meat and eggs.