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.
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.
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.