Rock Dove

Columbia livia

Rock Dove (Columbia livia)

The Rock Dove is the wild ancestor of the Town, Domestic or Feral Pigeon. The true Rock Dove is a rarity, and it is the domestic pigeon featured in these images.

The wild Rock Dove has pale-grey plumage, with a purple-green sheen on its neck. It has two distinct broad black wingbars and a white rump. It also has black-tipped grey tail feathers, and red eyes and legs. The true Rock Dove is a rarity due to interbreeding between Feral Pigeons which have very varied plumage patterns.

Rock Dove (Columbia livia)

It forages for seeds, buds, berries, and small invertebrates on the ground. The nest is loose and untidy formed on a ledge or in a cavity. The female lays two eggs, in three broods all year. They can live for up to 10 years.

Rock Dove (Columbia livia)

They are seen all year round. They inhabit coastal cliffs and mountains. Also in towns and cities, and farmland. The true Rock Dove is a rarity, but the Feral Pigeon is common and widespread, so much so they are considered a pest in our towns and cities when in large numbers. The droppings are also acidic which can cause damage to the stonework of buildings. The wild Rock Dove is now only found along the north and west coasts of Scotland, on offshore islands, and on Northern Island coasts. But the Feral Pigeon ancestor can be found almost anywhere, it is so common and widespread some consider it a pest.

Rock Doves have been domesticated for several thousand years giving rise to the subspecies Columba livia domestica, the Domestic Pigeon, and their homing ability means they can be used as carrier pigeons transporting messages, and many of these played an important role in wartime. Domestic pigeons which have escaped captivity gave rise to the Feral Pigeon.

Photograph of Rock Dove (Columbia livia), taken July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

4 thoughts on “Rock Dove

  1. You may count me in the group that consider the pigeon a pest. They’re also quite clever when it comes to getting birdseed out of a feeder whose sole purpose is to discourage them.

    It looks as though these birds have been banded. Is it to track their movements, or for some other purpose?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I too think they are a pest, and try to discourage them from visiting the garden, which seemed to have worked. The bird feeder has worked for me, and not putting and food on the ground. They have been ringed as they have been domesticated at some stage, and kept by pigeon fanciers.

      Like

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