Pigeons Sitting Down: What Does It Mean?

Pigeon sitting on a tree branch

Seeing pigeons sitting down can make you wonder what they’re up to and what it means. Pigeons are well known for their distinctive behaviors and adaptability, and they have a variety of reasons for sitting down.

Understanding why pigeons sit down can shed light on their natural instincts and state of well-being, whether they are roosting, resting, hatching eggs, or showing signs of illness or distress.

This article looks into the fascinating world of pigeons, discussing the significance of their sitting postures and behaviors, as well as revealing the telltale signs of sickness that these birds exhibit.

How Do Pigeons Sit Down?

Pigeon sitting outdoors

Pigeons often sit in two distinct sitting postures—the roosting position and the splayed-legs stance.

When pigeons sit in a roosting position, their legs are tucked underneath them, resembling the posture seen during incubation and egg protection in other birds.

This position comes naturally to pigeons as an instinctual behavior, requiring minimal conscious effort.

On the other hand, splay-legged sitting, in which pigeons extend their legs forward, is still a bit of a mystery.

Although there are many possible explanations, some experts suggest that splay-legged sitting may happen when pigeons are intoxicated, either from alcohol or disease, impairing their capacity to sit upright.

However, it’s worth noting that the exact reason for and significance of splay-legged sitting in pigeons are still up for debate and need further investigation to be fully understood.

Pictures of Pigeons Sitting Down

Pigeons lounging around can be fascinating and endearing to watch. In this section, you’ll see the unique postures and behaviors exhibited by pigeons when they are at rest.

Here’s a pigeon sitting in the grass in a roosting position:

Pigeon in roosting position

Pigeons sitting on pillars are a common sight in urban landscapes, and here’s an example of one:

Pigeon sitting on a pillar

Pigeons frequently sit by lakes because these bodies of water offer a serene and inviting environment for these birds:

Pigeon sitting by the lake

Here’s another picture of a pigeon sitting on the grass and enjoying its downtime:

Pigeon sitting on the grass

A colorful pigeon sitting on the ground can be seen in this picture:

Pigeon sitting on the ground

A pigeon is shown here taking a break from the heat of the afternoon by relaxing in a tray of water:

Pigeon relaxing in a tray of water

Meanwhile, check out this short clip of a pigeon sitting in a splay-legged position:

Sad Pigeon sitting on the ground

What Does It Mean When a Pigeon Is Sitting?

A pigeon in a sitting position is likely resting or enjoying some downtime. Like other birds, pigeons need to rest in order to recharge their bodies and minds.

However, keep in mind that pigeons sitting could mean different things depending on the situation and posture.

For example, when pigeons are sitting in a roosting position with their legs tucked underneath them, it indicates a state of rest and comfort.

Meanwhile, if pigeons are sitting with their legs spread out, it could potentially be a sign of illness or injury. In such cases, the pigeon’s sitting position can be a sign that something is amiss and may require veterinary attention.

Why Do Pigeons Sit on the Ground?

Pigeon sitting on the ground in the morning

There are many reasons why you might see a pigeon sitting on the ground. For starters, pigeons can land and take a break from their busy lives to relax on the ground.

Pigeons also often forage for food on the ground. They may sit on the ground to peck at food sources or inspect the area for potential food items.

Furthermore, since pigeons lack sweat glands, sitting on cooler ground surfaces aids with temperature regulation.

In some cases, pigeons may sit on the ground due to illness or when they are near death.

Pigeons may be too weak or physically incapable of maintaining their regular perching behavior when they are ill or suffering from serious health problems.

Finally, in some circumstances, pigeons may decide to construct their nests on the ground, where they can safeguard the nest from potential threats while incubating their eggs.

Why Do Pigeons Sit in a Roosting Position?

Pigeons sit in a roosting position with their legs tucked underneath them for various reasons.

During the time that I was volunteering at my uncle’s farm, I noticed his male and female pigeons frequently sit in a roosting position for one common reason — they were incubating eggs.

While they are roosted, I also noticed that the position of the birds exposes many of the softer and warmer feathers of their abdomen, which can help promote warmth and comfort for any eggs that may be underneath.

Further, pigeons are known for their nesting behavior, often choosing unconventional locations without much concern for exposure or visibility.

This increases the likelihood of coming across a pigeon sitting in a roosting position, especially in urban areas with dense pigeon populations and numerous pigeon nesting spots.

The roosting position also helps pigeons maintain body heat, which is especially important in colder weather or at night when temperatures drop. 

When seated in a compact position, they are better able to keep their core temperature up and conserve their energy.

Furthermore, this sitting position provides protection and safety for pigeons. Because of this, it is more difficult for predators to spot them and mount an assault.

Why Do Pigeons Sit Splay-Legged?

Pigeons sitting splay legged

The reasons behind pigeons sitting in a splay-legged position remain a topic of ongoing research and debate. Even though there isn’t yet a clear answer, many theories have been proposed.

According to one theory, pigeons’ splay-legged sitting could be a sign of intoxication or illness.

It is hypothesized that intoxication with alcohol or other toxic compounds could impair their sense of balance, coordination, and motor skills, leading to an unusual sitting position.

Additionally, illness or injury could impair a pigeon’s ability to sit upright properly, causing the bird to splay its legs for support.

I also remember a time when one of my uncle’s pigeons just returned from a lengthy flight. As the bird rested on its enclosure, it sat with its legs splayed.

At first, we thought the poor bird was injured but observing it further, it did not seem to be in pain. After several hours, we noticed the bird was up on its feet, firmly roosting on one of the perches.

We realized that the bird sat in a splayed position after its strenuous activity due to fatigue. This can also happen after extensive foraging or other energy-draining activities.

This experience made me realize that sitting splay-legged could also be a way for pigeons to rest and relieve strain on their tired muscles, finding temporary relief and relaxation.

Meanwhile, the association of certain foods, like popcorn and rice, with pigeons sitting splay-legged is also a notion that has circulated among some people. However, the scientific validity of this claim remains uncertain.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that some pigeons might just like to sit that way out of personal preference.

Nonetheless, as scientists continue to investigate this behavior, further research is needed to uncover the precise reasons behind pigeons sitting splay-legged.

How to Spot a Sick Pigeon

It’s important to know how to spot a sick pigeon so that you can save it as quickly as possible. Because of their stoic demeanor, pigeons might not show any outward symptoms of illnesses.

This makes it all the more important to pick up on any subtle clues that something might be wrong. This section will explore the visual and behavioral cues that can help you identify a sick pigeon.


Knowing how to spot a sick pigeon is crucial for giving the bird the care it needs in a timely manner. By observing their appearance, you can look for physical indicators that may suggest underlying health issues.

Here are some outward signs that may indicate a sick pigeon:

  • Ruffled or unkempt feathers: Sick pigeons may have ruffled or unkempt feathers that show they don’t have the drive or energy to groom themselves properly.
  • Changes in the color or texture of the feathers: Look closely at the pigeon’s feathers if you notice any abnormalities in their color or texture, such as spots of discoloration, mottling, or if the feathers appear rough or damaged.
  • Visible injuries, swellings, or wounds: Take a good look at the pigeon to see if there are any scratches, bruises, or swollen areas that might be indicative of health issues or recent trauma.
  • Crusting or discharge around the eyes, beak, or vent area: Any discharge, crusty deposits, or severe tearing around the eyes, beak, or vent area can be signs of illnesses or infections that require medical attention.
  • Drooped wings: When a pigeon’s wings seem to be drooping or held in a lower position than normal, it could be a sign of weakness, injury, or illness. This condition can impair the bird’s balance and ability to fly.
  • Weight loss: When a pigeon’s health declines, it may lose a significant amount of weight or appear lean and malnourished, with a protruding breastbone and diminished muscle mass.
  • Changes in droppings: Pigeon droppings typically have a white color. Although what’s considered normal can vary depending on the type of food they eat, colors like green and black are signs that a pigeon may be sick. In addition, the presence of blood in the droppings points to an illness.

These visual signs can tell you a lot about the pigeon’s health and help you decide if you need to step in or seek professional help.


Pigeons’ behavior is indicative of their health and can be monitored to reveal important details.

All types of pigeons have established routines of behavior, and any significant changes to these routines could be an indicator of illness.

Some behavioral indicators of a sick pigeon are as follows:

  • Dizziness: Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms of illness in nearly all species of birds. Pigeons with this symptom will not move much and always seem drowsy.
  • Unusual posture: Pigeons in distress may adopt unusual postures, such as hunching their bodies, sitting splay-legged, or sitting puffed up with their feathers fluffed out, which is often done to preserve body heat or ease discomfort brought on by sickness.
  • Irritability or aggression: Symptoms of illness in pigeons might include an increase in hostility toward other birds or humans, as well as a heightened sensitivity and irritation when approached or handled.
  • Loss of appetite: Sick pigeons sometimes show signs of poor appetite, including a lack of interest in food and a disruption of their regular feeding habits.
  • Respiratory issues: Listen for any wheezing, snoring, coughing, or laborious breathing that may indicate an issue with the pigeon’s respiratory system.
  • Inactivity or sluggishness: Pigeons are highly active birds. Rather than flying around and partaking in their normal activities, a sick pigeon will likely spend more time sleeping or perching quietly.

Learning to recognize these shifts in behavior will help you know when to seek veterinary help for your pigeon.

How Can You Help an Injured Pigeon?

Injured pigeon sitting on the ground

It’s important to use caution and prioritize the safety of the pigeon first if you come across one that needs help. To prevent causing the injured bird any more stress, you should approach it carefully and steadily.

Contacting a local wildlife rehabilitation center or bird rescue organization is strongly advised, as they have the knowledge and equipment to care for injured birds.

They’ll be able to point you in the right direction and tell you what to do next.

In the meantime, you can offer the pigeon temporary shelter in a quiet, warm, and well-ventilated environment away from potential dangers if immediate professional care is not available.

To prevent adding to its stress or harm, handle the bird as little as possible. To help the pigeon stay hydrated, place a shallow dish of clean water within its reach.

Keep in mind that it’s better to leave the care of an injured bird to professionals who can administer the necessary medical attention and rehabilitation so that it can be returned to its natural environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sitting pigeon on white background

Where Do Pigeons Like to Sit?

Pigeons like to sit in places that provide them with cover and a good vantage point. Rooftops, ledges, and window sills are common places for them to rest in cities.

These elevated positions allow them to keep an eye out for danger or new food sources without having to leave their perches.

Moreover, pigeons like sitting in conspicuous places, such as trees, park benches, power lines, and sculptures, where they can get some air and mingle with other birds.

Why Is My Pigeon Sitting and Not Moving?

If your pigeon is sitting and not moving, it may have a broken wing, rendering it unable to fly. Since pigeons are notoriously stoic, they may not exhibit any obvious signs of discomfort, even if they are in severe agony.

Likewise, pigeons may be rendered immobile and seated with their feet curled if they sustain a foot fracture or flesh wound, such as one caused by a pellet gun.

Disease or poisoning may also be factors, as pigeons can carry diseases and may accidentally come into contact with toxins. Furthermore, pigeons may sit and rest after extended periods of flight to recover and conserve energy.

Why Do Pigeons Sit on My Balcony?

There are several reasons why pigeons might choose to sit on your balcony. Your balcony could provide them with a secure haven, shielding them from potential dangers like predators and bad weather.

It might also be used by pigeons as a place to rest and roost, giving them a chance to take a break from flying and find a comfortable spot to perch and take in their surroundings.

Also, pigeons could be drawn to your balcony if there is a nearby food source. While pigeons can be bothersome, there are non-harmful deterrents available to prevent them from visiting or sitting on your balcony.

Have you ever observed pigeons sitting in unique or unexpected places? We would love to hear about your experiences and observations! Comment below about any interesting spots where you have seen sitting pigeons.


Rose December 29, 2023 - 11:50 am

I think my elderly budgie has had a stroke, he keeps his head down to one side and is unstable on his feet. Not sure of his age but he is quite elderly. I feel sad for him and hate seeing him like this. What can I do for him?

cropped Kimberly Hernandez from Bird Helpful.jpg
Kimberly Hernandez January 5, 2024 - 8:58 pm

I’m truly sorry to hear about your elderly budgie’s condition. Based on your description, it does sound like your budgie might be experiencing symptoms related to a neurological issue, possibly a stroke.

While I can offer some general advice here, please remember that consulting an avian veterinarian is the most important step for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are some steps you can take to help him:

Veterinary Care: First things first, please get him to an avian vet as soon as you can. They’re the best people to tell you exactly what’s going on and how to help him. Neurological issues like strokes can be tricky, and a professional’s guidance is invaluable.
Comfortable Environment: Lower or remove perches to prevent falls and line the cage bottom with a soft towel. This will help minimize injury if your budgie is unsteady or falls.
Emotional Support: Continue to interact gently with your budgie. Your presence can be comforting and help provide emotional support during this time.

I hope this advice helps even a little. The most important thing is getting him to a vet as soon as you can for the right treatment.


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