Mangile’s Pigeon Pages

American Pigeon Journal
June 1984, page 35.

Squeakers Feeding Squeakers.

by Robert J. Mangile

If you read much pigeon literature, you soon come away with the idea that cock pigeons feed their mates during the "billing" phase of their courtship.  I had watched very closely, even as a young boy, and was never very satisfied that cocks really offered food to their mates during "billing".

Then one day about 10 years ago (Sep. 21, 1973), I watched a pair of birds "billing" as a prelude to copulation.  The only unusual thing was that the hen seemed unwilling to lower her body for mounting and after each parting of the billing phase, she would continue begging with a very determined effort.

Finally, after some umpteen billing episodes, I saw first hand the grain being exchanged.  That was my first solid data that food was actually involved in the courtship of pigeons.  I wrote an A.P.J. article to document the event entitled: "Cock Pigeons Do Feed Their Mates", (Dec. 1973 A.P.J., page 730).

Then, last year on May 9, 1983, 1 saw another "first" but this time it was a little different!  It involved two squeakers, not long out of the nest.  After their regular feeding the birds began settling to their routine when suddenly  one  squeaker began begging another squeaker for food.  This isn't unusual but it continued with determination until the squeaker being pursued opened its bill and they began billing, as in a prelude to copulation.  Repeatedly, it occurred - and the billing turned into a rapidly undulating and regurgitating action of the squeaker being pursued for food.  As in the adult pair of ten years ago, I saw first hand, feed falling from their bills to the ground.  I was very puzzled!  It continued until at one point the one being fed lowered its body and was mounted by the other squeaker and they copulated.  It was followed by the ritualistic lunging and strutting about as in adults.

Sexes of the two young squeakers was not determined.  Whether or not food or sex was the primarily motive that prompted the behavior could not be determined.  It seems that food is one aspect of courtship in many forms of animal life; and logic seems to dictate that food, or the suggestion of food, is involved in the courtship behavior of the pigeon (Columba livia).  Solving such mysteries will not enable fanciers to produce better pigeons; but study of such facets of pigeon behavior will certainly offer an interesting involvement that seems to never cease.  Perhaps you have seen something interesting that is worth writing about.

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