BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 2: January 8, 2018

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

Rock Pigeon

Species Name

Columba livia

Appearance

29-37 cm length | 50-72 cm wingspan | 238-380 gm weight

A large stout-bodied dove with a small head, a small, slightly down-turned bill, a long tail, and short legs.

Wild rock doves are bluish-grey allover with an iridescent, green-purple neck and breast, grey wings with two bold black bars, dark tail and primary flight feathers, and pink or reddish feet. Their eyes are two-toned with orange, red or golden outside of a paler inner ring. The bill is dark and the cere is whitish. The female is almost identical but has less iridescence on the neck and almost none on the chest. Juveniles are duller than adults. Domesticated rock pigeons and the consequent feral populations show much more variation in plumage and come in a wide variety of colours and patterns.

Habitat / Behaviour

Granivore | Urban, Coasts | Lives 3-15 years

These abundant and highly adaptable birds inhabit open or semi-open environments within close proximity to roosting sites such as cliffs, buildings, bridges, and other other man-made structures.

Rock doves are a favourite food source for many predators and may even make up the bulk of the diet for many urban species. Predators include falcons, hawks, eagles, owls, crows, ravens, domestic and wild felids, and not least of all humans, who hunt wild rock pigeons for food or for sport.

Breeding

Monogamous | Nests on cliffs, buildings | 2 white eggs | 1-6 broods

Rock doves breed at anytime during the year but are more sexually active in the spring and summer. The downy squabs (hatchlings) are fed with crop milk for the first couple of days, produced by both parents.

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