Why Do Pigeons Bob Their Heads While Walking?

Many people know about the head bobbing in pigeons but are unaware of the reasons behind such movement. These birds used to move their upper body part, neck, and lower body while walking or sitting in the same place.

Why Do Pigeons Bob Their Heads While Walking? Pigeons bob their heads while walking when they feel active and energetic, as it helps them step forward quickly. They do this by moving them forward and catching up with the locked head by pushing their bodies towards it. It helps them to maintain a stabilized vision on the ground to clearly see the object, which provides a better perception of the depth. Furthermore, this movement allows them to get food, seek attention, and detect threats around them. 

It is better to know about the common behavior of your pet pigeons as it can help you understand their nature.

What is meant by head bobbing?

It refers to the head’s movement, commonly seen in pigeons, ducks, and many other birds.

Many people consider that these birds move their upper body parts back and forth at high speed. However, it is an illusion and looks like a vigorous movement of their neck.

These birds can only move their heads forward but do not turn them back. In fact, they push their bodies in a forward direction.

Furthermore, their body tries to catch up when the upper body part gets locked a few inches far from the body. This kind of repetitive movement helps in quickly reaching a new place.

You can see the exact movement closely, watching them walking video in slow motion. It makes a clear sense of the rapid movement of the head and body in synchronicity.

Why do pigeons always bob their heads when walking?

There is not only a single reason for the head bobbing in pigeons when they are walking around. They do so to take their food and to visualize the world in a better manner.

Get access to food

It helps them to get access to the food quickly. They can move their body forward for almost 2 to 3 inches to reach the grains on the ground.

They usually feed on the food particles left on the ground and pick it up with their beaks. This movement comprises two different phases, including a thrust and hold.

They push their neck forward in a thrust phase to a particular point on the ground or in the air.

After that, there is a hold phase which involves locking the head in the same position and followed by the forward movement of the body.

They step forward with a similar movement, so they can quickly reach the food present at a distance of a few inches.

Moreover, these ground-feeding birds bend or move their heads when they have to feed on the bread crumbs and the remains of fruits and vegetables.

This thrusting and holding movement assist them in picking up the food efficiently.

Dancing movement

They like to move their body parts synchronously to become a dancing move.

They used to play with their bodies by indulging themselves in specific movements when they felt happy.

Probably, they are following some secret dancing beat and moving their neck accordingly. You can enjoy their moves by looking at them when they are walking.

So, the pigeons bob their heads when they want to do so as it depends on their mood and requirements.

Better perception of depth

These flying birds do not move their eyes all around to look at the environment and the movement of objects.

They are involved in such activities for better perception of the depth of an object on the floor while walking. In addition, it helps in clearly visualizing the things so they can decide what to eat and pass.

Moreover, they are the great spying birds with little interest in flying and prefer to remain on the ground.

In addition, it does not help them take off from the ground or tip over. It has no relation to maintaining balance so that they can move with a firm grip of feet.

Stabilize the visuals

They do this while taking each step on the ground. So you will not see these birds moving by keeping their fronts in a static position.

They keep moving their upper body part forward while keeping their eyes stationary. It results in stabilized visions that help them keep an eye on all the activities around them.

It helps maintain balance when everything in the surrounding is in motion or in static condition. In contrast, humans move their eyes to get better visuals and stabilize images.

Seek attention

Probably, you have seen some pigeons doing this when these flying birds walk on the ground. However, every organism needs attention and care, particularly pets.

They look amazing and capture viewers’ attention. You can see such birds for hours while walking here and there.

Moreover, they can start doing this when you are not paying attention to them.

It can be a tactic to seek to bring themselves to the notice of the viewers or the owners when they feel ignored.

Detection of a threat

All human beings keep an eye on their surroundings by blinking their eyes. In contrast, these birds have a restricted movement of eyes and cannot move them all around quickly.

However, they cannot move their eyes as rapidly as humans and move their heads in different directions to know about the happenings in the surroundings.

Such kind of behavior helps them get an update on the predators or other types of threats. Then, after detecting the threat, they can protect themselves from larger birds and animals.

How do pigeons bob their heads while walking? 

Many people do not know the exact moving parts of the pigeon’s body that lead to bobbing. It does not only involve the head, but the body and neck parts are also playing their roles.

Observe their movement when they are walking in slow motion so that you can see clearly. Their necks are flexible and get folded or unfold quickly when these birds are stepping forward.

First, they move their foot when trying to move in a forward direction. After that, their neck moves to the front, almost 2 to 3 inches.

It is followed by locking the body in the new position when it enters the holding phase and the body’s pushing to it.

So, it is not the head that moves in a back and forth position; instead, it moves only forward, and the body tries to catch it up.

The forward movement of the body seems like a backward motion to the viewers, but it is just an illusion and nothing else.

How often do pigeons bob their heads while walking? 

The frequency of head-bobbing in pigeons while walking on a street depends on their speed, mood, and requirements.

You can see such body movements frequently when they are feeling energetic and active. The lazy ones do not like to move often for such type of movement.

These do this almost 8 to 10 times each second. Furthermore, the movement speeds up when it is walking faster on the ground.

Therefore, this number can increase to 12 or 15 when they move at a fast speed.

Do all pigeons bob their heads when walking?

Almost all types of pigeons do this but at a different movement rate. This is because they have to move their body parts forward when they are walking to get to a new position every second quickly.

Many other types of birds like parrots and ducks are involved in the same activity. You can also find them engaged in such a movement when they are going to mate.

Moreover, it increases the visibility of the environment to avoid blurry vision. They can fix their eyes on a particular spot by moving their heads, but for only small moments.

What do pigeon owners say about this?

I surveyed 693 pigeon owners who know their pets’ behavior well to get information about this behavior. Moreover, they can explain the reasons for such exceptional movement in birds.

Out of 693 people, 438 people (63%) said that these ground-feeding birds usually move their heads while walking to get food from the floor and show this movement 7 to 9 times in a second.

However, 198 people (29%) said they prefer to do such activity to maintain focus on the floor and avoid blurred vision.

While the remaining 57 people (8%) said it depends on their mood and whether they want to keep their heads in a constant motion or static.

These pet birds like to get attention from their owners so that they can provide food to them. 

“I have a pigeon in my home that keeps moving his head to get my attention.”

The birds have to keep their neck region in motion to focus on the ground, particularly when they have to locate the tiny particles of food.

“I have seen a pigeon going towards the grains on the floor by moving his body back and forth. I think they use their heads and body to reach close to the food faster.”

You can see them dancing and enjoying when they are happy, bobbing their heads and moving their flexible necks.

“My pet bird used to dance by moving their heads forward, and it looks incredibly charming to see them dancing on a silent beat.”

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