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Why Do Pigeons Puff Up? (Quick Facts)

Before electronic mail and telephone, our communication system was hugely dependent on manual labor and pigeons. Pigeons were much faster than a man walking on foot to deliver a message.

In the modern era, people raise pigeons as a hobby or the bird watcher looks at them for entertainment. Whether you are a pigeon owner or a bird watcher, knowing about the behavior pattern and other specific details will help you be more productive in your goals.

Let’s take a deep dive and know more about this topic.

Why do pigeons puff up?

Pigeons will puff up their neck, chest, and feather and each action will have significantly different meanings behind them. The puff-up gesture might be to attract mates or to fend off any predator. It’s also recorded that being sick can also trigger them to puff up certain parts of their body. 

There could be several reasons behind a pigeon puffing up. While doing the mating dance the male pigeon will puff up feathers from several parts of its body.

Also in distress, a pigeon will puff up to look bigger and intimidating. Different parts puffing up hold different meanings and some are interconnected to each other.

Puff up their neck:

Male pigeon Puffing up their neck’s feathers to attract mates. At first, the male pigeon will make a cooing sound then puff up the neck feathers and will kinda drag the tail feathers.

After that, the male pigeon may bow down and make other gestures, almost like an elegant dance move. The pigeon will also flap its wing pretty majestically after the mating is confirmed.

So from now on if you watch a pigeon with puff-up neck feathers then track its behavior for a while, you will witness a beautiful mating dance of a male pigeon.

Now, if you are a pigeon owner and see one or two of your pigeons are always puffing up their neck feathers then it is to show dominance over other pigeons. Puffing up neck feathers can also mean an expression of anger or anxiety. 

Some pet owners say, when they call their bird, the male pigeon will come closer with a puff-up neck and also make cooing sounds. So the conclusion can be drawn that puffing up neck feathers is a gesture for showing affection in a pigeon.

Puff up their chest:

Pigeon Puffing up their chest can mean several things. Puffing up their chest can make them look bigger and it does help keep their opponent at bay. A pigeon may also puff its chest If there is a predator nearby.

Most of the predators will go for an easy bait, the smaller the bird is the easier it’s to hunt for the predator, so if a pigeon can somehow make itself look bigger and heavier than it actually is then the chance of survival increases. 

The pigeon may also puff up chest features to deal with the extreme cold. The feather can preserve heat and keep all the vital organs like lungs and heart safe on a snowy winter day.

The puff-up chest can also mean the pigeon is sick and needs medical attention. If your pet pigeon is fatigued, avoiding interaction and the chest is puffed up then it is more likely to be sick.

Puff up their feathers:

When a pigeon is puffing up their feathers it’s called preening. The preening is mainly done for creating air pockets underneath feathers to regulate a suitable body temperature. Peering also helps them clean off the dust and debris stuck on feathers.

If you have ever seen a pigeon taking a bath, it will puff up the feather while bathing to let the water reach properly and the feather will stay puffed up while the pigeon lets the water dry off.

Do pigeons puff up when they mate?

Yes, pigeons puff up when they mate. A male pigeon will try to show off its feathers and some particular gesture like dragging down its tail and bowing down in front of the female pigeon. But the most distinctive thing for a male pigeon while mating is the puff-up neck and feathers and cooing. 

What does it mean when pigeons puff up and coo?

For humans, it’s easy to express emotion, affection, and other feelings. You can easily give gifts to your loved ones or propose them in a grand manner. But when it comes to pigeons they don’t have too many options to express their feelings.

A male pigeon will puff up its neck, feathers and do the mating call to attract the female. As a human, you would look for compatibility, financial stability, and many more aspects of a person’s life before choosing your partner.

For the female pigeon, their male partner needs to be strong enough to defend them and have good genes for survival. Puffing up their neck, cooing, mating dance and other gestures of a male pigeon will be showcasing its strength, agility, and genes.

Why do pigeons puff up and dance?

Nature follows the simple and brutal rule of survival of the fittest. Birds and animals with good genes and optimal health get the chance to reproduce and their DNA gets passed on through the following generation.

Some fight with others to establish their dominance in the pack, others may try to impress the female with mating calls and dance. For pigeons, the male pigeon puffs up and dances to impress the female pigeon. The mated pair may build a lifelong bond, they will stay together, build a nest, lay eggs, take care of each other, raise children, and more.

Pigeon puff and dance is a gesture for mating but it also showcases the tolerance level, good genetics, agility, and more. However, if you are raising pigeons in captivity and trying to forcefully match them then you will have to go through a lot of hurdles.

It will be hard for you to determine if the pigeons you have are both male or there is a male-female pair to begin mating. Next will be the breed, flying breed may not mate with the utility breed or fancy breed.

Even if you get a male & female pigeon with the same breed they may still not mate, it’s gonna be a long trial and error method for you to get a perfect mated pigeon pair. 

Why do pigeons lift their tails up?

In mating dance, pigeons usually drag their tails down and do turns & bow along with mating calls. However, different breeds of pigeons have different kinds of feathers in their body, specifically, there are some breeds with majestic tail feathers.

When they perform the mating dance the tail lifts up and spreads elegantly like a peacock. Most fancy breed pigeons will have these significant characteristics. 

How to know if a pigeon is sick?

Visible wound:

If you are breeding pigeons in captivity then finding visible wounds like bleeding, broken wings, will be obvious to spot and give proper attention. Unattended wounds may lead to infection and broken wings will make them vulnerable and easy targets devour for the predator.


If the pigeon is too fatigued to do any of its regular activity and not responding to any kind of approach then it’s surely dealing with some physical illness. It would be better to separate the bird and seek proper medical solutions. Keeping the sick bird with others may cause a massive spread of viral diseases. 

Puffed up chest:

If the chest of the pigeon has been puffed up for a long time then immediately look for help. It’s a significant indication of sick or traumatized pigeons. Pigeons usually puff up their chest to make them look bigger which keeps the predator at bay, but it reduces back to its original shape in a few minutes. If you see a puff-up chest for more than 10 to 12 hours then it’s not normal at all. 

Final thoughts

Birds engage in a variety of behaviors that may appear strange at first look, but they have significance behind those actions. Pigeons will puff up their neck, chest, and feathers. The puff up motion might be used to attract mates or to drive off predators. Also being ill might cause them to do so.