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Rock Dove - Domestic Pigeon    rock-pigeonpigeon

 

 

Identification and Pictures

(Columba livia)

rock pigeonRock pigeons, also called Rock doves, Blue Rock doves, feral pigeons, and domestic pigeons, were officially name Rock pigeons by the American and British Ornithologists Unions in 2004.  They are about 13 inches, a little larger than Morning Doves.  They are stocky birds, with short legs, short necks, small round, bluish gray heads, slender bills, and a fleshy cere just above the bill.  The eyes are usually red or orange.  

Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Typically they are gray with a white rump patch, two black bars on the wings, a large black band on the tail, and red feet.  The feathers on the neck are often iridescent blue or green.  There are many domestic color variations, with white, tan, black, and gray colors.  Females look much like the males but have less iridescence around the neck.  Young birds, called squabs are duller.  When pigeons walk they bob their heads.  

The names Pigeon and Dove are used interchangeably, however ornithologists, normally considered pigeons to be the larger bird.  Pigeons have tapered wings with powerful wing muscles, making them very strong, agile fliers which can reach speeds of 85 miles an hour.

Carrier pigeons

Pigeons have been domesticated for thousands of years.  Although sometimes they were just pets, because of their ability to find home when released they have been used as carrier, and homing pigeons, carrying messages during war time.  During World Wars 1 and 2 their use in carrying messages across enemy lines saved thousands of human lives.  It is thought by some that their navigation abilities are a result of being able to sense the earth's magnetic fields with magnetic tissues in their heads.

Birmingham Rollers

Birmingham roller pigeons are an incredible sight to see.  The birds have a talent for doing backward somersaults as they spin towards the earth.  Hobbyists train the birds and their are world wide completions to see who can their flock of birds to perform the best.  View roller pigeon video.

There are 12 recognized subspecies of Rock pigeons.    

Range and Habitat

pigeonsRock pigeons range year round, from southern Canada, across the U.S., and South America.  They thrive in populated areas, and flocks of pigeons may be found in large cities, and rural areas around the world.  They can be seen in crowded streets, and public places, often roosting together on buildings, cliffs, and bridges.   

Breeding and Nesting

In courtship the male will strut around the female with his chest puffed out, and his tail spread, while bowing, and cooing.  Although spring, and summer are their main breeding periods, pigeons may breed at any time during the year, and could have 5 or more broods.  They are usually monogamous.  Pigeons and doves build crude nests of sticks, and straw, on window ledges, cliffs, under bridges, in trees, or on the ground.  The male will bring nesting material to the female, and she builds the nest.  The female will normally lay two white eggs.  Both birds will incubate the eggs for 17 to 19 days.  The pair will take care of the young birds, which may be in the nest for as long as a month.  Both sexes produce nutritious crop milk they feed to the young.  

Song and Call

They make a soft gurgling sound, like coo-roo-coo.

Food and Feeding

Pigeons eat seeds, grains, berries, and scraps from people.  They like to feed on the ground in open areas.  They are very comfortable around people, and will often approach them for food.  Unlike many birds, pigeons can dip their bills into the water, and drink without having to tilt their heads back.  They can be attracted to backyards with seeds, cracked corn, popcorn, bread, and other food scraps.  Because they are often in large flocks many people discourage them by using anti-roosting pigeon spikes.

For more on food and feeding click here.

For more on feeders click here.



To learn about other favorite birds click here.

 
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