Can pigeons be kept indoors?

Quick Answer

Yes, pigeons can be kept indoors as pets. However, they require a large enough cage or enclosure and plenty of daily exercise and interaction to thrive. Pigeons are highly intelligent and social birds that can bond closely with their owners. Keeping a pigeon indoors requires dedication to providing proper care.

Pigeon Species Best Suited for Indoor Housing

The best pigeon breeds for indoor keeping include:

  • Racing pigeons – Bred for endurance and homing ability, racing pigeons adapt well to life in a loft or large indoor enclosure.
  • Fancy pigeons – Ornamental breeds like fantails, pouters, and frills do well indoors and require less flying space.
  • Utility pigeons – Common breeds such as rollers and tumblers are active but handle confinement better than high-energy homing pigeons.
  • Doves – Smaller and less active than pigeons, common doves like ringneck doves and diamond doves make good indoor pets.

Larger pigeon breeds like runts and giant homers may not be suitable for indoor keeping because of their substantial size and exercise requirements. The most important factor is choosing a breed with an amenable personality and temperament.

Housing Requirements

Pigeons require plenty of living space, even when kept indoors. The minimum recommended enclosure size for a pair of pigeons is:

  • Length: 3 feet
  • Width: 2 feet
  • Height: 3 feet

This allows enough room for roosting, nesting, and exercising. For every additional pigeon, increase the length by 1 foot.

The cage or loft should be constructed from sturdy materials like finished plywood, sheet metal, or wire mesh. Avoid using toxic materials like lead paint or lumber treated with arsenic.

The enclosure should contain:

  • Perches for roosting
  • Nest boxes for breeding pairs
  • Feed and water stations
  • Roosting shelves
  • Grit box for digestion

Proper ventilation, lighting, and cleanliness are also important. Windows or mesh panels allow airflow. Natural light from a window or UV bird lamps mimics outdoor conditions. The flooring and perches should be lined with absorbent bedding material and cleaned regularly.

Outdoor aviaries attached to indoor coops provide additional flight space. A pigeon-proof room like a spare bedroom or enclosed porch can also serve as suitable indoor housing.

Exercise and Environmental Enrichment

One challenge of keeping pigeons indoors is ensuring they get adequate physical activity. Pigeons are active birds that can fly great distances. Inside a coop, they need enrichments and daily exercise.

Options for providing exercise include:

  • Letting pigeons fly freely in a safe room for several hours daily under supervision.
  • Harness training pigeons for controlled indoor flights.
  • Allowing access to a large indoor atrium or aviary-style enclosure.
  • Building an outdoor enclosure for daily flying time.

When pigeons can’t fly freely, placing perches at different heights encourages movement and flying between platforms. Providing ledges, boxes, shelves, and ladders promotes activity. Rotate new toys like cardboard tubes, swings, mirrors, and bells to prevent boredom. Scatter feeding pigeon feed encourages natural foraging behavior.

Without adequate exercise, pigeons can become overweight, stressed, or prone to other health issues. Pigeon-proofing rooms allows safe free flight indoors. For pigeons kept strictly caged, at least an hour of daily supervised flight or play is recommended.


Pigeons are highly social and do best kept with other compatible pigeons for companionship. A mated pair makes a flock, but housing small groups is ideal. Introduce new pigeons slowly to avoid aggression.

Even with other pigeons, one-on-one interaction with human owners is important. Pigeons form close bonds and recognize individual people. Make time to hand feed, talk to, train, handle, and play with pet pigeons daily. Supervise children and help them learn gentle handling. This socialization prevents boredom and stress.


Pigeons become very comfortable around people but should still be handled carefully:

  • Approach pigeons slowly and calmly. Move gently to avoid startling them.
  • Offer a perch or your fist for pigeons to step onto rather than grabbing at them.
  • Provide secure support under the feet and chest when handling pigeons.
  • Limit handling time to 10-15 minutes intervals to prevent stress.
  • Avoid squeezing or restrictive holding of the body and wings.
  • Release pigeons gently onto a perch instead of letting go midair.

Regular, positive handling when pigeons are young helps them become accustomed to interaction. Always be patient and calm when picking up pigeons to build trust.


Pigeons are grain-eating birds and eat:

  • Pigeon feed mix or mixes for doves
  • Whole corn, wheat, milo, barley, peas, rice
  • Pelleted feed formulated for pigeons
  • Fresh greens like kale, spinach, chard
  • Small amounts of vegetables, sprouted seeds
  • Grit like oystershell and redstone for digestion
  • Clean drinking water always available

Feed 1-2 ounces of grain mix per pigeon daily. Spread feed over the floor to encourage foraging. Offer fresh foods like leafy greens daily. Supply oystershell grit in a separate dish to aid digestion.

Healthy treats for pigeons include unsalted nuts, washed sprouts, basil, cilantro, berries, and lettuce. Avoid excess bread, processed foods, salty foods, and avocados.

Grooming and Cleaning

Like any pet, pigeons require routine care and maintenance:

  • Nails: Trim nails if they overgrow. Use styptic powder to stop bleeding if they crack.
  • Feathers: Check for damaged feathers and gently preen during handling. Keep feathers clean.
  • Beak: Check the beak for overgrowth. Carefully file down with an emery board if needed.
  • Eyes/Nares: Wipe away any discharge daily with saline solution. Pluck debris from nares.
  • Bathing: Provide a bird bath or shallow dish for bathing 2-3 times a week.
  • Cleaning: Spot clean droppings daily. Disinfect cage monthly. Replace substrate weekly.

Check pigeons weekly during handling for any issues needing treatment. Maintain the living space by scrubbing perches, disinfecting surfaces, and replacing soiled substrate regularly. Proper hygiene prevents many bird health issues.

Common Health Issues

When cared for properly, pigeons are fairly hardy pets. However, they can develop certain health conditions including:

  • Obesity: From inactivity and overfeeding. Maintain healthy weight with exercise and proper diet.
  • Egg binding: Difficulty passing eggs in breeding hens. May require veterinary treatment.
  • Airsac mites and parasites: Treat with veterinarian-prescribed mite spray and dewormer.
  • Bumblefoot: Sore on the footpad. Keep perches clean and treat topically.
  • Psittacosis: Bacterial respiratory infection. Usually acquired from outdoor pigeons.
  • Tumors: Can develop on eyes or in the body. Surgical removal may help.

See an avian vet for any major health changes like lethargy, increased drinking, wheezing, or discolored droppings. Quarantine new pigeons a few weeks before introducing them. Keep stress low and diet, housing, and hygiene standards high.

With attentive care, minor issues can often be treated at home. More serious conditions require prescription medication or procedures from an avian veterinarian.

Signs of a Healthy Pigeon

Monitor pigeons closely to catch any emerging issues early. Healthy pigeons display:

  • Active, energetic movement and flying
  • Shiny, clean feathers
  • Clear, alert eyes
  • Smooth, well-groomed plumage
  • Good appetite and normal food/water intake
  • Regular activity and vocalizing
  • Firm, full breast muscle
  • Normal, well-formed droppings

Weigh pigeons weekly. Rapid weight loss, lethargy, increased sleeping, and fluffed-up feathers can indicate illness. Closely observe eating, drinking, and droppings. Changes in appearance of urine or stool can signal digestive issues.

Challenges of Indoor Care

While pigeons adapt well to indoor living, potential challenges include:

  • Preventing boredom and inactivity
  • Providing adequate space and exercise
  • Maintaining cleanliness of living space
  • Stopping problem behaviors like territorial aggression
  • Supplying proper full spectrum lighting
  • Affording ongoing avian veterinary care
  • Handling hormone-related behaviors like unfertilized egg laying
  • Preventing mess around cages from seeds and droppings
  • Dealing with noise from cooing, wing-flapping, and bill-clicking

Indoor life goes against the active, social nature of pigeons. It takes commitment to enrichment and training to prevent issues. Costs of housing, feed, and veterinary needs can also add up.

Benefits of Keeping Pigeons Indoors

Despite the challenges, benefits of indoor pigeon keeping include:

  • Close bond and companionship from a highly intelligent pet
  • Interactive, lifelong relationship with proper care
  • Entertainment from observing pigeon antics and interactions
  • Lower risk of disease than in outdoor flocks
  • Protection from predators, weather, and hazards
  • Peace of mind knowing pets’ whereabouts and wellbeing
  • Opportunity to train pigeons and be part of a unique hobby

Pigeons recognize faces, solve puzzles, play games, and show affection towards people who work to earn their trust. The opportunity for a close relationship with these amazingly smart birds is a singular experience.

Tips for Keeping Pigeons Indoors

To increase your chances of success keeping pigeons inside:

  • Start with just 1-2 pigeons to learn proper care.
  • Gradually introduce new pigeons over several weeks.
  • Pigeon-proof any rooms where they will fly free.
  • Install shelf perches and ledges at varying heights.
  • Provide a roomy cage or enclosure with amenities.
  • Let pigeons fly freely in a safe room or aviary daily.
  • Provide new toys, foraging activities, and handling.
  • Follow a nutritious diet with vegetables and high-quality feed.
  • Schedule annual vet exams and have an avian vet on call.
  • Train pigeons for harness flying or flying to a landing platform.
  • Join online groups to learn from fellow pigeon keepers.

Expect messes, noise, and some challenges. With preparation and commitment, pigeons can make uniquely bonded and fascinating indoor companions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pigeons noisy as indoor pets?

Pigeons can be noisy at times with cooing, wing flaps, and bill-clicking, especially when anticipating food. But they are generally not as loud or constant as parrots. The noise is manageable with precautions like sound insulation.

Do I need experience with pigeons to keep them indoors?

Beginners can successfully keep pigeons as pets with preparation. Do extensive research on care and join pigeon owner groups. Start with one young pigeon and slowly add more. An experienced mentor helps guide new owners.

How often should pigeons have outdoor flights?

Pigeons should have as much supervised outdoor flight time in a safe enclosure as possible. At minimum, most owners recommend one hour of flying in an aviary or enclosed porch daily. More is ideal. Outdoor time maintains fitness.

Do pigeons need a mate or can I keep one alone?

Pigeons are social and do best kept with at least one other pigeon for companionship. A lone pigeon can become stressed or bored. Same sex pairs often bond closely. But opposite sex pairs may try to breed.

How often do pigeons reproduce when kept as pets?

Keeping fake eggs in the nest is a common way to prevent excessive breeding. Pigeons can breed year-round and may raise 5-10 broods annually otherwise. Breeding this frequently is taxing on hens. Monitor pairs and replace real eggs with fakes.

Should my indoor pigeon be able to fly outside?

Unrestricted free flight outside is usually not recommended. Pigeons can get lost, stolen, or killed outdoors. Some owners do train pigeons to fly outdoors then return. But even well-trained pigeons can fail to return home one day.

Do I need to get my pigeon vaccinated?

There are no core vaccines routinely given to pet pigeons. However, pigeons kept outdoors or boarded at lofts may receive optional vaccines for paramyxovirus and pox. An indoor pigeon’s risk of infection is low. Ask your avian vet about optional vaccines to discuss pros and cons.

What should I do if my pigeon escapes and flies off?

Try tempting it down with favorite treats. Call it by name and shake treats. Leave the cage or loft open with food inside to encourage it to return. Report escaped pigeons to local vets, shelters, and online lost bird groups so people can watch for them. Many lost pigeons are found!

How often should pigeons see a vet?

Annual exams are recommended for pet pigeons to check for any hidden health issues. Well-cared for indoor pigeons may only need biannual exams. Seek vet visits sooner for any injuries or signs of illness. Establish a relationship with an avian vet in case emergency care is ever needed.


While unconventional, pigeons can make interesting and fulfilling indoor pets for the right owners willing to meet their needs. Their reputation as simple city birds underestimates pigeons’ intelligence, bonding capabilities, and potential for training. Caring for pigeons indoors has challenges but offers a unique relationship with these lively birds full of charm and personality. With proper diet, housing, enrichment, exercise, and veterinary care, pigeons can thrive inside the home. Do diligent research before committing to any exotic pet. For those prepared for the responsibility, pigeons can be a surprising and rewarding indoor companion.

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