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In my city park there are mostly two types of bird:

  • Mallard ducks
  • Rock doves (pigeons)

When I feed pigeons, they approach me very closely. Sometimes they peck the food that fell on my feet. If I hold my hand with food in the air some pigeons will land on my hand and eat.

In the same park there are Mallards, who are always very cautious and they try to maintain about 1-1.5 meters distance from me. They also run away when they see some rapid movement of mine.

Why are ducks more cautious? Why are pigeons more careless?

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    $\begingroup$ For goodness sake, stop feeding pigeons! Let them forage for themselves. $\endgroup$ – David Aug 8 '19 at 19:40
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A possible reason is that pigeons in a city live there year around, while urban ducks often migrate, or their populations are refreshed by new "recruits" from wild populations ; so pigeons have more opportunity to adapt to being close to people. Another possible reason is that pigeons are more agile than ducks on land and are more able to escape if you decide to grab one for dinner.

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