Animals / Birds

Rock dove


Rock pigeon (en.)

Сизый голубь (ру.)

Felsentaube (de.)

Paloma bravía (es.)


Order — Columbiformes.

Family — Columbidae.

Genus — Columba.

Species — Columba livia.


The rock dove has a restricted natural resident range in western and southern Europe, North Africa, and into South Asia. The rock dove is often found in pairs in the breeding season but is usually gregarious. The species (including ferals) has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 10,000,000 km2 (3,900,000 sq mi). It has a large global population, including an estimated 17–28 million individuals in Europe. Fossil evidence suggests the rock dove originated in southern Asia and skeletal remains unearthed in Israel confirm their existence there for at least three hundred thousand years. However, this species has such a long history with humans that it is impossible to tell exactly where the species' original range was. Its habitat is natural cliffs, usually on coasts. Its domesticated form, the feral pigeon, has been widely introduced elsewhere, and is common, especially in cities, over much of the world. A rock pigeon's lifespan is anywhere from 3–5 years in the wild to 15 years in captivity, though longer-lived specimens have been reported. The main causes of mortality in the wild are predators and persecution by humans. The species was first introduced to North America in 1606 at Port Royal, Nova Scotia.

Внешний вид

Length: 30–36 cm.

Wingspan: 50–67 cm.

Weight: 265–380 g.

The white lower back of the pure Rock Dove is its best identification character, but the two black bars on its pale gray wings are also distinctive.

The tail is margined with white. It is strong and quick on the wing, dashing out from the sea caves, flying low over the water, its white rump showing well from above.

Pigeon colors are grouped into seven morphs: Blue Bar, Red Bar, Checker, Red, Spread, White, Pied.

The head and neck of the mature bird are a darker blue-gray than the back and wings.

Eye colour of the pigeon is generally orange but a few pigeons may have white-grey eyes.

The eyelids are orange in colour and are encapsulated in a grey-white eye ring.

The feet are red to pink.

Patch on the side of the neck is  green and lilac or purple, larger than that of the Stock Dove, and the tail is more distinctly banded.

Young birds show little luster and are duller.

When drinking, most birds take small sips and tilt their heads backwards to swallow the water. Pigeons are able to dip their bills into the water and drink continuously without having to tilt their heads back.


The rock dove feeds primarily seeds of  cereals, legumes and other weeds.  It often visits fields for grain and other green foods.  Like other doves it prefers to be near water and usually drinks after feeding.

Feral rock doves often frequent parks and other areas where people eat in the open and look for scraps or handouts.  They also are quite willing to be fed by hand and will closely approach any human offering food.  In some parks they have been known to land on people's arms and heads when looking for food.  If one person feeds them frequently, they will soon learn to recognize that person and approach him or her for a handout.  One day I was walking down a street some distance from the park where I often feed the pigeons and a flight of about one dozen birds passed overhead at some altitude.  When the saw me they made a sweeping circle and came around, descended, and landed on an electric wire above my head.  Unfortunately I was not carrying any food with me at the time.


Doves and pigeons are very hardy birds. Seldom do they get sick if they are well cared for. Many are very cold hardy but they do not handle being in an environment that is wet, cool, and drafty.

Some of the signs of illness to be aware of are abnormal behavior such as sitting for longer than usual or being abnormally quiet, closed eyes, fluffed feathers, head nodding or head to one side, balance problems, sharply protruding breast bone, dirty vent, and slimy droppings.

Some of the more common illnesses your dove or pigeon could contract are pigeon pox, internal parasites such as threadworm, roundworm, or tapeworm, external parasites such as mites or ticks, wounds, salmonellosis, and parrot fever also known as psittacosis. An ailing dove or pigeon should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.


Like most other temperate zone doves, courtship and mating usually occur as the days are increasing in length.  Also like most other doves, once a pair of pigeons bond they will stay together for life.  Courtship often starts with cooing and bowing, but the bowing is a little less dramatic than the diamond doves.  The male pigeon will inflate his throat, displaying the metallic colored feathers on his neck, lowers his head and turns around in circles in the presence of the female he is courting.  

In some cases the male will slightly spread his tail when he runs after the female in short spurts.  This is similar to the action the mourning dove males use in courting their females.  Again like other doves, the pigeon will engage in "driving" where the male follows closely behind the female.  Sometimes the male and female will exchange "kisses" which is a rapid light pecking around the head and the neck, often with their eyes closed. The female also will put her beak inside the males open beak which is called "billing".  Diamond doves also engage in kissing and billing.  And finally the male will mount the female and copulation will occur.

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