What Makes Pigeons Unique?
As far as animals go, pigeons are among some of the most intelligent. Don't believe it? Spend some time watching them. You will see them exhibit behaviors that mimic humans.
From the time a baby pigeon is born it is cared for by its parents like any other animal. The baby pigeon is fed by one of the parents (usually the father) from his mouth. The father eats food, then regurgitates it, much like a cow. This food then becomes milk, or 'crop'. When the baby is hungry, it will flap its wings and cheep until the father is ready to feed. Oftentimes the baby will constantly bother the father, and if the father isn't ready to feed, he will patiently and gently fend off the baby. Very much like a small child who bothers his mother until he gets what he wants!
A mother pigeon always lays two eggs, a male and a female. From the time they are born, these pigeons mate for life. They spend time in the nest together, they grow up together, they learn to fly together. You will even catch them picking on each other and fighting with each other when they are young, much like human brothers and sisters. They can also be very loving toward each other. Watch them long enough and you will catch them snuggling up close. Sibling pigeons depend on each other and their parents very much when they are young. They can be very vulnerable to the other adult pigeons in a coop, as some adult pigeons can be cruel to them.
When the pigeons are adults and ready to start a family, it is a process much like courtship. The male pigeon prances around a bit to show off to the female. If other male pigeons are around and he feels threatened, he will chase the other males away. Once he is confident that the female is all his, then they begin the process of mating. There is a lot of 'kissing' and nuzzling involved. This isn't a quick process; there is a lot of foreplay before the actual act is done. The pigeons are very romantic towards each other, and it is very sweet to watch.
Once the female lays the eggs, she will sit on them until they are ready to hatch. But this isn't a job that she does alone. The male will often give her a break so she can eat and drink, and maybe fly around some. He is very comfortable in this role. He sees their relationship as a partnership and treats it as such.
The eggs hatch, and the process of raising a family starts all over again. As mentioned above, the father is very involved in raising the babies, not only with the feeding but with training as well. The babies look up to the father as a role model and copy everything he does.
Studying pigeon behavior can be fascinating. If you see a pigeon (or if you are luck, you will see multiple!), stop for a few moments and observe.