Why Do Pigeons Have Red Eyes?

Whether you love them or loathe them, pigeons are everywhere – especially once you step foot into a city.

Usually you will find them fighting over a piece of scrap food or huddled around something or other.

Maybe you own several pigeons and know their distinguished features like the back of your hand.

One thing is for sure though, you will have probably seen hundreds (if not thousands) of pigeons in your lifetime, meaning you’ll have no doubt about what they look like.

So, one thing you might want to know then is why do pigeons have red eyes? If you have ever studied their features, you will have noticed that a pigeon’s eyes are not just black. 

Read on if you are still just as curious. We have the answers for you!


The color of a pigeon’s eyes tends to be an orangey-red. The red color is not the eye itself, and is actually blood vessels that surround the white or yellow iris.

To determine how red the eye color will be depends on two things – how deep red the blood vessels are for that particular pigeon, and how many blood vessels there are.

When there are less blood vessels, the eye appears more orange-like, rather than red.

To really notice any of these differences, you would have to take a look up close to see the fantastic colors of a pigeon’s eyes. 

The Iris

The iris of the pigeon’s eye is, of course, colored lighter than the rest of the eye.

Because it is white or yellow, it can sometimes make the red appear darker in contrast.

Most people will not be able to see the light color of a pigeon’s iris without having a close-up inspection, which the average person looking at a pigeon will not probably do. 

Baby Pigeons

You may think that you have not seen a baby pigeon, but the likelihood of this is probably not true.

A little like millennials, pigeons take a longer time to leave home than other bird species, so it is no wonder that they look like fully grown pigeons by the time they leave the nest.

If you do want to see if the pigeon you are looking at is a juvenile pigeon or an adult, then looking at its eyes should give you the answer.

A younger pigeon will tend to have grey or brown eyes, rather than a more vibrant color. 


So what determines the color of a pigeon’s eyes? Genetics. How their eyes turn out color-wise all depends on the bird’s parents, just like with humans.

There are times when this is not true though, and that is when mutations occur.

This can happen in one eye or both, and causes the eyes to look different than their parents, or even the other pigeons around them.

One of the mutations is an odd change of color, so the eyes could turn out to be brown or even green.

If the pigeon has something called ‘bull eye’, then the iris is black making the whole eye appear black.

The pigeon could also have a mutated eye called a ‘cracked eye’.

This is when the pigment of the eye reaches part of the eye creating an obvious distinction between where the colors of the eyes are different.

None of these mutations affect the actual eyesight of the pigeon, and only affect how it looks to those who see the eyes.

Also, most of the time you probably would not even notice if a pigeon had a mutated eye. To see it you would have to take a close-up look.

Pink Eyes

Sometimes a pigeon may have pink around the eyes instead of red, but there are a couple of reasons why this may happen.

The most common reason is the low concentration of blood vessels around the iris making it appear like it is pink.

As stated before, pigeons will have different amounts of blood vessels around the eye, and also the colour of the iris will affect how pink or red the blood vessels look.

When a pigeon suffers from albinism, then it can have really pink eyes, rather than just a pink looking iris.

To know if a pigeon is albino, then it will have white feathers with an ivory beak and claws. You cannot mistake its distinguished looks to a regular pigeon.

Pigeon Eye Care

Pigeons generally tend to have really good eyesight, and impressively can even see ultraviolet light, a type of magnetic radiation that is responsible for why people’s skin tans.

Because of this awesome fact they were once used for search and rescue missions to help save lives across the sea. 

If you own pigeons then you are going to want to help make sure their eyes stay in the best condition possible.

Their diet is where they are going to find the nutrients they need to keep them in tip top shape.

Try providing a diet full of a variety of things such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains and a protein source. This could be mealworms or sunflower seeds.

Last Words

Getting to know about a pigeon’s eye colour or genetics in general can help to determine the overall health of the pigeon, and whether it has developed properly since birth.

Seeing as they cannot communicate with you in a way you would understand, it is also valuable to understand the above factors in case the pigeon is in distress.

This is especially handy if you own, or are thinking of buying some pigeons.

Pigeons do, unfortunately, get a bad reputation, but they are wonderful creatures with a lot to offer.