Pigeon Milk

pidge milk.JPG


Part of a balanced breakfast™️

You might not want to call a yellowish substance with a cottage-cheese consistency “milk,” but pigeon milk is a thing.
Like normal mammalian milk, pigeon milk contains protein and fat to nurture their babies.  It’s more densely packed with nutrients than cow or human milk, and in a study, chicks fed with pigeon milk were ultimately 16% heavier than those who received the normal baby bird diet of regurgitated insects, worms, and other predictable bird foods.  Even more enticingly, they’re packed with antioxidants (any animal that lives its life in urban squalor probably needs an amazing immune system).
The milk is produced in a pigeon’s crop, which is a thin-walled storage sac that projects from the esophagus.  This is where pigeons usually gather food while eating quickly, saving it to digest once they’re well out of harm’s way.  When the pigeon is lactating, fluid filled cells from the inside of the crop are sloughed off and regurgitated into their babies’ mouths.  Pigeon lactation is controlled by prolactin, the same hormone that controls lactation in us.
Scientists who are sequencing the pigeon genome are trying to isolate the specific genes that cause lactation in birds, with the possible intent to introduce pigeon milk to the market.
Just thought you ought to know.
-Rachel Hsu