Rock Dove (Columba Livia)

History

This dove is related to domestic pigeons from times gone by... It was originally bred to provide food, but with increased numbers in the wild they soon became pests found in urban areas. It is approximately 29 - 37cm depending on the exact subspecies.

Rock Doves, more commonly known as the ‘standard’ Pigeon we all know, come in all manner of shades, some bluer and blacker and some are pale with chequered markings. They have blue/grey feathering and often an iridescent breast, in a variety of colours. Other Rock Doves have a brick-red or brownish shade and some can be white, while others resemble wild rock doves. Wild Rock Doves are now usually only found along the west and north coasts of Scotland and on offshore islands. They can also be found on the coasts of Northern Ireland.

Feral or domesticated pigeons breed in most parts of the UK apart from exposed areas and usually within highly populated urban and suburban towns and cities. These are the types that most of us know from Trafalgar Square and films such as Mary Poppins ‘Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…

The female lays 2 eggs in a nest that is usually found precariously perched on a building/window ledge. The feral types always make nests close to urban areas as food is readily available. Incubation takes around 17 - 19 days and both parents care for the young. Fledging usually takes around 30 days and they can produce several broods per year.

Behaviour

The feral Rock Dove has colonised most parts of the world and is usually found close to urban towns and cities. Their droppings cause major concerns for local councils as they can spread disease (as can all bird droppings). They have been around for longer than anyone can remember!

Breed Details

  • Status: Common
  • Life Expectancy: 3-5 years in the wild. 10 years + in captivity

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