City pigeons are among the most controversial birds, especially when they appear en masse in human settlements. Their life expectancy is rather short compared to other pigeon species. Read here how old pigeons get.

pigeon species

In the animal kingdom, pigeons (Columbidae) form a family with about 42 genera and over 300 species. In Central Europe there are only five species of pigeons in the wild:

  • City pigeon/street pigeon (wild form of Columba livia f. domestica)
  • Hohltaube (Columba oenas)
  • Ringeltaube (Columba palumbus)
  • Türkentaube (Streptopelia decaocto)
  • Turteltaube (Streptopelia turtur)

The domestic pigeon (Columba livia f. domestica), which was bred from the rock pigeon in the Orient, is the descendant of more than 800 breeds worldwide, which are assigned to four categories:

  • carrier pigeons
  • High and aerobatic pigeons
  • Show pigeons (beauty and show pigeons)
  • Economy and fattening pigeons

Life expectancy of domestic pigeon species

Below we list how old the different pigeons are in local areas.

City pigeons/street pigeons

In city centers up to 90 percent of young people die in their first year of life. The surviving youngsters reach an average age of two to three years. If the conditions are optimal for the birds, they can also live for more than ten years.


Stock pigeons live between eight and ten years in the wild. However, the wild pigeons often become victims of their natural predators much earlier. In captivity they can live up to fifteen years.

wood pigeon

Wild wood pigeons can live between 15 and 18 years. However, predators, diseases, heavy hunting or a harsh winter significantly reduce their lifespan.

collared pigeons

Collared pigeons live between six and nine years in the wild. Like the other pigeon species, however, they often fall victim to their enemies much earlier. If they are kept in captivity, they can get much older. For example, a collared pigeon in the Basel Zoo lived to be around 25 years old.

Note: This pigeon species owes its name to the fact that it only began migrating to Europe from the south-east in the 1930s.


The life expectancy of lovebirds living in the wild is between ten and thirteen years. However, they often fall prey to predators earlier.

Note: The Turtle Dove was ‘Bird of the Year ‘ in 2020 and is on the Red List as an endangered species.


The age of racing pigeons and show pigeons depends on the breed of pigeon and how it is kept. Therefore, the following information about the age of these pigeons is for guidance only:

  • Show pigeons: 10 to 12 years; individual animals up to 15 years
  • carrier pigeons: 10 to 15 years; individual animals +20 years (rare)

frequently asked Questions

In addition to natural predators, diseases and parasites shorten the life of wild pigeons. In addition, the animals may be hunted. In addition, a declining supply of food and a lack of habitats have a negative effect on the age of the birds.

Pigeons are on the menu of various predators. For example, falcons, sparrowhawks, eagle owls or magpies hunt wild pigeons and breeding pigeons. There is also a risk of raccoons and martens.

Pigeons are monogamous, whether they are wild pigeons or captive birds. When one partner dies, the other mourns. This can go so far that this pigeon also dies because it no longer takes in food and water. However, it is also possible that she becomes a new partner.

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