Pigeon 'Milk' Contains Antioxidants and Immune-Enhancing Proteins
Production of crop milk, a secretion from the crops of parent birds, is rare among birds and, apart from pigeons, is only found in flamingos and male emperor penguins. Essential for the growth and development of the young pigeon squab, pigeon 'milk' is produced by both parents from fluid-filled cells lining the crop that are rich in fat and protein.
Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Genomics uses new technology to study the genes and proteins involved in pigeon 'milk' production and shows that pigeon 'milk' contains antioxidants and immune-enhancing proteins.
Meagan Gillespie, says, lead author, "It is possible that if antioxidant and immune proteins are present in pigeon 'milk', they are directly enhancing the immune system of the developing squab as well as protecting the parental crop tissue."