Can Pigeons Swim?

You may have heard about the saying taking like a duck to water, but does the same thing go for pigeons? Well no not exactly.

Unlike most animals who may automatically begin kicking to try and swim when being placed in the water, pigeons do the opposite and tend to just stay in their position and float.

So you’re asking can pigeons swim, the answer is no, not really. 

You won’t find pigeons swimming in the water as you do with seagulls, but this is not because they’re afraid of water, it’s just because their bodies aren’t built to be swimming birds. 

If you’re interested in finding more about their swimming and water capabilities (or more like lack of) then continue reading to find out more. 

Their Feet Aren’t Made For Swimming

As we mentioned, pigeon bodies aren’t naturally built to endure the struggles of swimming which is why you won’t often find them in water.

Pigeons do not have webbed feet like other water-loving birds such as ducks, swans, and puffins which makes it nearly impossible for them to be able to paddle their feet to move through the water and also makes it more challenging to stay afloat. 

As they know they don’t have the feet for swimming, most will stay away from the open water and try to seek their food elsewhere.

As pigeons feed off the ground, they’ll predominantly spend their time around busy areas with lots of people where there is more opportunity to find food on the floor. 

Will You Find Pigeons Near The Water? 

Just because pigeons don’t have webbed feet does not mean you won’t find them in water at all, as you may sometimes come across a pigeon taking a bath in a domestic birdbath in your yard if no one else is around as dampening their feathers loosens the dirt build-up and makes it easier for them to preen themselves.

As long as pigeons can touch the bottom of the water, they’ll feel confident enough to enter, however, anything deeper or larger then they’ll know to stay away from it. 

Pigeons need to stay hydrated like the rest of us, so you may find them hovering around places with water such as ponds, birdbaths, and foundations so they can rehydrate but you won’t find them taking a casual dip for a swim. 

What Happens If A Pigeon Gets In Water?

We’re not saying you’ll never come across a pigeon in water but chances are if you do, it probably wasn’t deliberate and they might have found themselves in a bit of trouble. 

Pigeons can float on the water surface for a short period in the hopes that they’ll drift to the side and then be able to leave the water, but unlike ducks or swans, they cannot paddle to help themselves exit the water so floating is their only option.

Their feathers will eventually get damper and heavier making it more difficult for them to gather the power and energy to fly off the water, and sometimes this can result in the pigeon passing away. 

Most pigeons know they’re not capable of swimming in the water and avoid entering or falling in, whereas some pigeon chicks do not know any difference and fly off from the nest for the first time and find themselves in the water.

Hopefully, their mother will spot them and pull them out, but in some cases, they’re not as lucky. 

If you can see a pigeon struggling to fly off from the water and you’re close enough to reach them, then we’re sure they would appreciate you helping them out of the water. 

Can You Wash A Pigeon?

Pigeons will often preen themselves, however, if you’ve got a pet pigeon who’s managed to get themselves into a mess then you may feel inclined to wash them in a shallow bowl or bathtub but just make sure the water is not too hot or too cold.

Once you’ve washed your pigeon, keep them wrapped up in a soft towel until they’re dry to keep them warm. 

Pigeons may put up a fuss about being bathed, but this is probably due to them not liking being handled rather than being in the water. 

Always make sure you have a water source available for your pet pigeon whether that be a birdbath or a water bottle so they can stay hydrated.