Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Columbiformes / Columbidae / Columba / Species
Columba livia - Rock pigeon (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Rock dove.
  • Feral pigeon.
  • Domestic pigeon.
  • Rotsduif (Holland).
  • Pigeon biset (France).
  • Felsentaube (Germany).
  • Piccione selvatico (Italy).
  • Paloma bravía (Spain).
  • Klippduva (Sweden).

(B19, B162)

Names for newly-hatched

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Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Gordon McLeod

Species Editor

Debra Bourne

Major References

B162, B163, B164, B165, B166 

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Pigeons, Doves.

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

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Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Head to tail:
  • General: 31-34cm (B162); 30-35cm (B164); 33cm (B165); 31-35cm / 12-13 ins. (B166)

Wingspan:

  • General: 63-70cm (B162); 62-68cm. (B164)

Winglength:

  • Male: 219-235mm. (B162)
  • Female: 213-227mm. (B162)
Adult weight General 230-370g. (B162)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Short and thin; black with white nostril stripe. (B162, B164, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Eyes Male Red with black pupil. (B162, B164, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Short and thin; black with white nostril stripe. (B162, B165)
Eyes (Iris) Black. (B162, B165)

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Legs

Adult Male Short; reddish-pink. (B162, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Short; reddish-pink. (B162, B165, B166)

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Upperparts: Pale grey; rump white.
  • Head: Crown grey; nape iridescent purple/green.
  • Underparts: Grey; throat grey.
  • Wings: Blue-grey; upper flight feathers and coverts lower wing has two black bars; underside grey-white.
  • Tail: Square; upper and under: dark grey with black tip.

(B162, B165, B166)

Variations (If present) Feral variants:

Three common colour variants found:

  • Dark grey plumage with normal black markings.
  • White plumage with dark brown markings.
  • Normal grey plumage with large black spotted barring over entire wings.

(B165)

Juvenile
  • Duller plumage than adult, and lacking strong green coloured patch on nape of neck.

(B165)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Altricial, helpless, downy, eyes closed. (B163, B166)

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year
  • Throughout year in UK, mainly March to October (B162); March to September. (B166)
No. of Clutches 5 or more (B163); 2-3. (B166)

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Nest placement and structure

  • Loose colonial nesting.
  • Nest formed from a cup of vegetation and feathers - no real lining.
  • Coastal nests incorporate driftwood and seaweed.
  • Located on natural or artificial ledge or crevice.
  • Buildings commonly used.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 2 (B162, B163, B166)
Range 1-2 (B162, B163)
Egg description: Smooth and slightly glossy, sub-elliptical, 39mm long; white.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Incubation

16-19 days (B162, B163); 17-19 days (B166)

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Hatching

Asynchronous. (B163)

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Fledging

35-37 days (B162, B163); 30-35 days. (B166)

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Walk and peck at ground. Scavenge from human waste. (B162, B163)
Newly-hatched Fed crop-milk by parents. (B163)

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By both birds. (B163)
Incubation By female only. (B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by both parents. (B163)
Juveniles

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific
  • Gregarious, flocking to feed, roost and fly.

(B162, B163)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous pair bond.
  • Courtship - flight by male, involving gliding and slow wing-claps.
  • Displaying male approaches and bows to female.
  • Courtship feeding takes place.

(B162, B163)

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

  • Perches openly.
  • Walks
  • Takes off and lands on ground.

(B166)

Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

  • Seeds of cereals, weeds, beans and pulses.
  • Green leaves.
  • Invertebrates.
  • Human waste food.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Newly-hatched

Crop-milk produced by adults. (B163)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Common and widespread throughout western Palearctic below 60ºN, the Middle East, Asia, North and Central America, Australasia, the Caribbean and scattered through South America.

Britain: Common resident (feral populations). Indigenous populations limited to north and west coastlines of Scotland and Ireland.

Migration:

  • Resident or sedentary populations.
  • Capable of 'homing' over great distances.

(B162, B163, B166)

Occasional and Accidental --
Introduced

Worldwide over last two centuries through escapes of domesticated birds. (B163)

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Habitat

  • Indigenous populations - Rocky areas or cliff-faces, normally coastal.
  • Feral populations - Cities and towns.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Marked variation, complicated by interbreeding with escaped (feral) pigeon (rock dove) populations.
  • Columba livia palastinae; (Middle East); Paler colouration - mantle, scapular and upper wing coverts grey instead of blue-grey; rump grey.
  • Columba livia gaddi; (Azerbaijan and eastward); Paler colouration - mantle, scapular and upper wing coverts grey instead of blue-grey; rump grey.
  • Columba livia schimperi; (Nile Valley); Paler colouration - mantle, scapular and upper wing coverts grey instead of blue-grey; rump grey.
  • Columba livia dakhlae; (central Egypt - oasis regions); Very pale, whitish-grey colouration.

(B162)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Indigenous populations in declining through interbreeding with feral birds, which are common and widespread. (B163)

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part 2 (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds which may be killed or taken by authorised persons: This section has been replaced by General Licences with the same effect.") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Feral birds interbreeding with indigenous populations. (B163)

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Captive Populations

Domesticated birds commonly kept as 'hobby' animals for breeding and racing. (B163)

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Trade

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