THE MERCK VETERINARY MANUAL
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Nutrition in Columbiformes

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Most pigeons are either primarily granivorous or frugivorous, with some invertebrates also consumed. Seed-eating pigeons and doves can be fed commercial pigeon pellets. Alternatively, psittacine small pellets and mash are accepted by most Columbiformes and provide higher quality (and generally more costly) ingredients than some commercial pigeon rations.

Columbiform parents feed their young with crop milk, which is produced from desquamated epithelial cells and glandular secretions of the crop. Crop milk is rich in fat and protein and nearly devoid of carbohydrates. Seed-eating pigeons switch rapidly from crop milk production to feeding their young mostly regurgitated seed. Frugivorous pigeon squabs (at least of the white-crowned pigeon, Columba leucocephala) rely on crop milk for a longer period, which increases the interval between clutches.

Last full review/revision July 2011 by Joeke Nijboer, PhD; Teresa L. Lightfoot, DVM, DABVP (Avian)

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