The rock dove, rock pigeon, or common pigeon (/ˈpɪdʒ.ən/ also /ˈpɪdʒ.ɪn/; Columba livia) is a member of the bird family Columbidae (doves and pigeons).:624 In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon".
Wild rock doves are pale grey with two black bars on each wing, whereas domestic and feral pigeons vary in colour and pattern. Few differences are seen between males and females. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents care for the young for a time.
Habitats include various open and semi-open environments. Cliffs and rock ledges are used for roosting and breeding in the wild. Originally found wild in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, pigeons have become established in cities around the world. The species is abundant, with an estimated population of 17 to 28 million feral and wild birds in Europe alone.
|Adult male in Germany|
|approximate native range introduced non-native populations|
The rock dove was first described by Gmelin in 1789. The genus name Columba is the Latin word meaning "pigeon, dove", whose older etymology comes from the Ancient Greek κόλυμβος (kolumbos), "a diver", from κολυμβάω (kolumbao), "dive, plunge headlong, swim". Aristophanes (Birds, 304) and others use the word κολυμβίς (kolumbis), "diver", for the name of the bird, because of its swimming motion in the air. The specific epithet is derived from the Latin livor, "bluish". Its closest relative in the genus Columba is the hill pigeon, followed by the other rock pigeons: the snow, speckled, and white-collared pigeons.
The species is also known as the rock pigeon or blue rock dove, the former being the official name from 2004–2011, when the International Ornithological Congress changed its official listing to the original British name of rock dove. In common usage, this bird is still often simply referred to as the "pigeon". Pigeon chicks are called squabs.
Twelve subspecies are recognised by Gibbs (2000); some of these may be derived from feral stock.:176–179
The adult of the nominate subspecies of the rock dove is 29 to 37 cm (11 to 15 in) long with a 62 to 72 cm (24 to 28 in) wingspan. Weight for wild or feral rock doves ranges from 238–380 g (8.4–13.4 oz), though overfed domestic and semidomestic individuals can exceed normal weights. It has a dark bluish-grey head, neck, and chest with glossy yellowish, greenish, and reddish-purple iridescence along its neck and wing feathers. The iris is orange, red, or golden with a paler inner ring, and the bare skin round the eye is bluish-grey. The bill is grey-black with a conspicuous off-white cere, and the feet are purplish-red. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is typically around 22.3 cm (8.8 in), the tail is 9.5 to 11 cm (3.7 to 4.3 in), the bill is around 1.8 cm (0.71 in), and the tarsus is 2.6 to 3.5 cm (1.0 to 1.4 in).
The adult female is almost identical in outward appearance to the male, but the iridescence on her neck is less intense and more restricted to the rear and sides, whereas that on the breast is often very obscure.
The white lower back of the pure rock dove is its best identification characteristic; the two black bars on its pale grey wings are also distinctive. The tail has a black band on the end, and the outer web of the tail feathers are margined with white. It is strong and quick on the wing, dashing out from sea caves, flying low over the water, its lighter grey rump showing well from above.
Young birds show little lustre and are duller. Eye colour of the pigeon is generally orange, but a few pigeons may have white-grey eyes. The eyelids are orange and encapsulated in a grey-white eye ring. The feet are red to pink.
When circling overhead, the white underwing of the bird becomes conspicuous. In its flight, behaviour, and voice, which is more of a dovecot coo than the phrase of the wood pigeon, it is a typical pigeon. Although it is a relatively strong flier, it also glides frequently, holding its wings in a very pronounced V shape as it does. Though fields are visited for grain and green food, it is often not plentiful enough as to be a viewed as pest.
Pigeons feed on the ground in flocks or individually. They are scavengers, and frequently feed on human garbage. Pigeon groups typically consist of producers, which locate and obtain food, and scroungers, which feed on food obtained by the producers. Generally, groups of pigeons contain a greater proportion of scroungers than producers. They roost together in buildings or on walls or statues. When drinking, while 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. When disturbed, a pigeon in a group will take off with a noisy clapping sound that is said to be a cue for other pigeons in a flock to take to flight.
Pigeons, especially homing or carrier breeds, are well known for their ability to find their way home from long distances. Despite these demonstrated abilities, wild rock doves are sedentary and rarely leave their local areas.
The rock dove has a restricted natural resident range in western and southern Europe, North Africa, and extending into South Asia. It 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 to 28 million individuals in Europe. Fossil evidence suggests the rock dove originated in southern Asia, and skeletal remains, unearthed in Israel, confirm its existence there for at least three-hundred thousand years. However, this species has such a long history with humans that it is impossible to identify the species' original range exactly.
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 ranges 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.
The rock dove breeds at any time of the year, but peak times are spring and summer. Nesting sites are along coastal cliff faces, as well as the artificial cliff faces created by apartment buildings with accessible ledges or roof spaces.
The nest is a flimsy platform of straw and sticks, laid on a ledge, under cover, often on the window ledges of buildings. Two white eggs are laid; incubation, shared by both parents, lasts 17 to 19 days. The newly hatched squab (nestling) has pale yellow down and a flesh-coloured bill with a dark band. For the first few days, the baby squabs are tended and fed (through regurgitation) exclusively on "crop milk" (also called "pigeon milk" or "pigeon's milk"). The pigeon milk is produced in the crops of both parents in all species of pigeons and doves. The fledging period is about 30 days.
With only their flying abilities protecting them from predation, rock pigeons are a favourite almost around the world for a wide range of raptors. In fact, with feral pigeons existing in almost every city in the world, they may form the majority of prey for several raptor species that live in urban areas. Peregrine falcons and Eurasian sparrowhawks are natural predators of pigeons that are quite adept at catching and feeding upon this species. Up to 80% of the diet of peregrine falcons in several cities that have breeding falcons is composed of feral pigeons. Some common predators of feral pigeons in North America are opossums, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, eastern screech owls, and accipiters. The birds that prey on pigeons in North America can range in size from American kestrels to golden eagles and can even include gulls, crows, and ravens. On the ground, the adults, their young, and their eggs are at risk from feral and domestic cats. Doves and pigeons are considered to be game birds, as many species have been hunted and used for food in many of the countries in which they are native.
The body feathers have dense, fluffy bases and are loosely attached to the skin, hence they drop out easily. When a predator catches it, large numbers of feathers come out in the attacker's mouth, and the pigeon may use this temporary distraction to make an escape. It also tends to drop the tail feathers when preyed upon or under traumatic conditions, probably as a distraction mechanism.
Pigeons primarily use powder down feathers for preening, which gives a soft and silky feel to their plumage. They have no preen gland or at times have very rudimentary preen glands, so oil is not used for preening. Rather, powder down feathers are spread across the body. These have a tendency to disintegrate, and the powder, akin to talcum powder, helps maintain the plumage. Some varieties of domestic pigeons have modified feathers called "fat quills". These feathers contain yellow, oil-like fat that derives from the same cells as powder down. This is used while preening and helps reduce bacterial degradation of feathers by feather bacilli.
|Tinaminyssus melloi, a nasal mite.||Pigeon louse fly (Pseudolynchia canariensis), a blood-sucking ectoparasite.|
Pigeons may harbour a diverse parasite fauna. They often host the intestinal helminths Capillaria columbae and Ascaridia columbae. Their ectoparasites include the ischnoceran lice Columbicola columbae, Campanulotes bidentatus compar, the amblyceran lice Bonomiella columbae, Hohorstiella lata, Colpocephalum turbinatum, the mites Tinaminyssus melloi, Dermanyssus gallinae, Dermoglyphus columbae, Falculifer rostratus, and Diplaegidia columbae. The hippoboscid fly Pseudolynchia canariensis is a typical blood-sucking ectoparasite of pigeons, found only in tropical and subtropical regions.
Contact with pigeon droppings poses a minor risk of contracting histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis, and exposure to both droppings and feathers can produce bird fancier's lung. Pigeons are not a major concern in the spread of West Nile virus; though they can contract it, they do not appear to be able to transmit it. Pigeons are, however, at potential risk for carrying and spreading avian influenza. One study has shown that adult pigeons are not clinically susceptible to the most dangerous strain of avian influenza, H5N1, and that they did not transmit the virus to chickens. Other studies have presented evidence of clinical signs and neurological lesions resulting from infection, but found that the pigeons did not transmit the disease to chickens reared in direct contact with them. Pigeons were found to be "resistant or minimally susceptible" to other strains of avian influenza, such as the H7N7.
Rock doves have been domesticated for several thousand years, giving rise to the domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica). Numerous breeds of fancy pigeons of all sizes, colours, and types have been bred. Domesticated pigeons are used as homing pigeons as well as food and pets. They were in the past also used as carrier pigeons, and so-called war pigeons have played significant roles during wartime, with many pigeons having received bravery awards and medals for their services in saving hundreds of human lives, including, notably, the British pigeon Cher Ami, which received the Croix de Guerre for actions during World War I, and the Irish Paddy and the American G.I. Joe, which both received the Dickin Medal, amongst 32 pigeons to receive this award, for their actions during World War II.
Many domestic birds have escaped or been released over the years, and have given rise to feral pigeons. These show a variety of plumages, although many have the blue-barred pattern as does the pure rock dove. Feral pigeons are found in large numbers in cities and towns all over the world. The scarcity of the pure wild species is partly due to interbreeding with feral birds.
C. livia pigeons drink directly by water source or indirectly from the food they ingest. They drink water through a process called double-suction mechanism. The daily diet of the pigeon places many physiological challenges that it must overcome through osmoregulation. Protein intake, for example, causes an excess of toxins of amine groups when it is broken down for energy. To regulate this excess and secrete these unwanted toxins, C. livia must remove the amine groups as uric acid. Nitrogen excretion through uric acid can be considered an advantage because it does not require a lot of water, but producing it takes more energy because of its complex molecular composition.
Pigeons adjust their drinking rates and food intake in parallel, and when adequate water is unavailable for excretion, food intake is limited to maintain water balance. As this species inhabits arid environments, research attributes this to their strong flying capabilities to reach the available water sources, not because of exceptional potential for water conservation. C. livia kidneys, like mammalian kidneys, are capable of producing urine hyperosmotic to the plasma using the processes of filtration, reabsorption, and secretion. The medullary cones function as countercurrent units that achieve the production of hyperosmotic urine. Hyperosmotic urine can be understood in light of the law of diffusion and osmolarity.
Unlike a number of other bird species which have the salt gland as the primary osmoregulatory organ, C. livia does not use its salt gland. It uses the function of the kidneys to maintain homeostatic balance of ions such as sodium and potassium while preserving water quantity in the body. Filtration of the blood, reabsorption of ions and water, and secretion of uric acid are all components of the kidney's process.
Gas exchange across eggshells results in water loss from the egg. However, the egg must retain enough water to hydrate the embryo. As a result, changing temperatures and humidity can affect the eggshell's architecture.:2 Behavioral adaptations in Columba livia and other birds, such as the incubation of their eggs, can help with the effects of these changing environments.:2 It was found that eggshell architecture undergoes selection decoupled from behavioural effects, and that humidity may be a driving selective pressure. Low humidity requires enough water to keep the embryo from desiccation, and high humidity needs enough water loss to facilitate the initiation of pulmonary respiration.:3 The water loss from the eggshell is directly linked to the growth rate of the species. The ability of the embryo to tolerate extreme water loss is due to the parental behaviour in species colonising in different environments. Studies show that wild habitats of C. livia and other birds have a higher rate tolerance of various humidity levels, but C. livia prefers areas where the humidity closely matches its native breeding conditions.:9 The pore areas of the shells allow water to diffuse in and out of the shell, preventing the possible harming of the embryo due to the high rates of water retention. If an eggshell is thinner, it can cause a decrease in pore length, and an increase in conductance and pore area. A thinner eggshell can also cause a decrease in mechanical restriction of the embryo.:9
The Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) is found in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, east to western Indonesia, Taiwan, and south China. The brown wood owl is a resident breeder in south Asia. This species is a part of the family of owls known as typical owls (Strigidae), which contains most species of owl. It belongs to the earless owl genus Strix.
The brown wood owl is medium large (45–57 cm), with upperparts uniformly dark brown, with faint white spotting on the shoulders. The underparts are buff with brown streaking. The facial disc is brown or rufous, edged with white and without concentric barring, and the eyes are dark brown. There is a white neckband. The sexes are similar.
The call is a (hoo) hoo hoo HOO or a deep goke-goke-ga-LOOO or a loud scream. The alarm call is a bark, wow-wow. Some subspecies are known to produce distinct vocalizations; they are also different in appearance and parapatric, and might be distinct species: The northern Strix (leptogrammica) newarensis group (Himalayan wood-owl; present subspecies newarensis, ticehursti, laotiana and caligata) which occur from the Himalayan foothills of Kashmir east to Taiwan have a soft low to-hooh not unlike a rock dove cooing. S. (l.) bartelsi (Bartels's wood-owl), Javan wood-owl from Java, the southeasternmost taxon, has a loud, forceful, single HOOH! with long pauses between calls.
This species is highly nocturnal and isn't commonly found in dense forests. It can often be located by the small birds that mob it while it is roosting in a tree. The diet of the brown wood owl consists mainly of small mammals, birds, and reptiles.Columba (genus)
The large bird genus Columba comprises a group of medium to large stout-bodied pigeons, often referred to as the typical pigeons. The terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used indiscriminately for smaller and larger Columbidae, respectively. Columba species – at least those of Columba sensu stricto – are generally termed "pigeons", and in many cases wood-pigeons. The species commonly referred to just as "the pigeon" is the feral pigeon (C. livia domestica). It is derived from the rock dove (C. livia), which also has given rise to the majority of domesticated pigeon breeds, such as the racing pigeon and the fantail pigeon. Meanwhile, "wood pigeon" by itself usually means the common wood pigeon (C. palumbus).
This genus as understood today is native to the Old World, but some – notably the domestic and feral rock pigeon – have been introduced outside their natural range, for example in the Americas.Columbidae
Pigeons and doves constitute the animal family Columbidae and the order Columbiformes, which includes about 42 genera and 310 species. They are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills that in some species feature fleshy ceres. They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. Pigeons and doves are likely the most common birds in the world; the family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.
The distinction between "doves" and "pigeons" in English is not consistent, and does not exist in most other languages. In everyday speech, "dove" frequently indicates a pigeon that is white or nearly white; some people use the terms "dove" and "pigeon" interchangeably. In contrast, in scientific and ornithological practice, "dove" tends to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied. Historically, the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as "pigeon" is the species known by scientists as the rock dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is common in many cities as the feral pigeon.
Pigeon is a French word that derives from the Latin pipio, for a "peeping" chick, while dove is a Germanic word that refers to the bird's diving flight. The English dialectal word "culver" appears to derive from Latin columba.Doves and pigeons build relatively flimsy nests, often using sticks and other debris, which may be placed on trees, ledges, or the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs at a time, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after 7–28 days. Unlike most birds, both sexes of doves and pigeons produce "crop milk" to feed to their young, secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Young doves and pigeons are called "squabs".Damascene pigeon
The Damascene is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. Damascenes, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants of the rock dove (also called rock pigeon) (Columba livia).
The breed is thought to have originated in Damascus, Syria and hence its name.Yen RFC emisor no a
sume responsabilidad JVC AllissonDomestic pigeon
The domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica) is a pigeon subspecies that was derived from the rock dove (also called the rock pigeon). The rock pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics. Research suggests that domestication of pigeons occurred as early as 10,000 years ago.Pigeons have made contributions of considerable importance to humanity, especially in times of war. In war the homing ability of pigeons has been put to use by making them messengers. So-called war pigeons have carried many vital messages and some have been decorated for their services. Medals such as the Croix de guerre, awarded to Cher Ami, and the Dickin Medal awarded to the pigeons G.I. Joe and Paddy, amongst 32 others, have been awarded to pigeons for their services in saving human lives.English Fantail
The English Fantail is a highly developed breed of fancy pigeon. The Fantail, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia). The Fantail is said to have originated in India, but there are early references to it in Spain and China.Fancy pigeon
Fancy pigeon refers to any breed of domestic pigeon, which is a domesticated form of the wild rock dove (Columba livia). They are bred by pigeon fanciers for various traits relating to size, shape, color, and behavior, who often exhibit their birds at pigeon shows, fairs and other livestock exhibits.There are about 800 pigeon breeds; considering all regional varieties all over the world there may be 1100 breeds. The European list of fancy pigeons alone names about 500 breeds. No other domestic animal has branched out into such a variety of forms and colours.Charles Darwin is known to have crossbred fancy pigeons, particularly the Ice Pigeon, to study variation within species, this work coming three years before his groundbreaking publication, On the Origin of Species.Gaditano Pouter
The Gaditano Pouter is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. Gaditano Pouters, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia).German Modena
The German Modena (German: Deutsche Modeneser) is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. German Modenas, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia).Hill pigeon
The hill pigeon, eastern rock dove, or Turkestan hill dove (Columba rupestris) is a species of bird in the family Columbidae.Indian Fantail
The Indian Fantail is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. Indian Fantails, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia).Modena pigeon
The Modena is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. Modenas along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia).Petrophassa
Petrophassa, commonly known as the rock pigeons, is a small genus of doves native to Australia, and similar to bronzewing pigeons. It includes two species:
Chestnut-quilled rock pigeon, P. rufipennis
White-quilled rock pigeon, P. albipennisThey are not closely related to Columba livia, the rock dove (also called rock pigeon), a species which includes the domestic and feral pigeons as well as the wild species native to Europe, North Africa and Asia.Pigeon keeping
Pigeon keeping or pigeon fancying is the art and science of breeding domestic pigeons. People have practised pigeon keeping for about 10,000 years in almost every part of the world. In that time, humans have substantially altered the morphology and the behaviour of the domesticated descendants of the rock dove to suit their needs for food, aesthetic satisfaction and entertainment.
People who breed pigeons are commonly referred to as pigeon fanciers. The hobby is gaining in popularity in the United States, after having waned within the last 50 years. Both the hobby and commercial aspects of keeping pigeons are thriving in other parts of the world.Pouter
The Pouter pigeons are domesticated varieties of the rock dove, Columba livia, characterized by a very large, inflatable crop. They are kept as ornamental or fancy breeds, valued for their unusual appearance. There are many varieties of pouter with little in common except for the nature of the crop. The origin of the breed group is unknown, but Pouters have been bred in Europe for at least 400 years.Release dove
A release dove, also called white pigeon, is a rock dove bred for small size and overall resemblance to a white dove.
Albinism or other genetic anomalies that produce an entirely white dove occur very rarely in the wild since an all-white coloration would make these birds stand out in their natural habitats, leaving them highly vulnerable to predators. Most white doves are domesticated ring-necked doves that have been bred as pets. Ring-necked doves do not have any homing abilities and are considered too fragile to use for dove releases.
Although dove release businesses advertise that their birds will be able to safely return home, released “doves” are frequently killed in accidents or by predators before they can return home. The pigeons bred for dove release services are bred for their color and small size, not for their homing abilities or flight speed, as a result, some birds are attacked by predators moments after they are released. Some released birds become confused and are found injured or dead nearby their original release site. Since these are domesticated birds, they do not possess the instincts or skills to survive in the wild.Increased public awareness about animal cruelty, and the influx of injured or lost release doves in animal shelters is decreasing the demand for release dove services.Rock Dove Cave
Rock Dove Cave is a cave in San Antonio, Texas, United States discovered by local boys who were exploring a construction site owned by McMillin Homes. The cave is believed to be the fifth largest in Bexar County.Tumbler pigeons
Tumbler pigeons are varieties of domesticated pigeons descendant from the rock dove that have been selected for their ability to tumble or roll over backwards in flight.
This ability has been known in domesticated breeds of pigeons for centuries. In Wendell Levi's book The Pigeon, reference is made to pigeons with this tumbling ability existing in India before the year 1590. Charles Darwin, in his book The Origin of Species, makes reference to the Short-faced Tumbler which was a popular breed during his lifetime, and still can be found exhibited at pigeon shows today.
There are many different breeds that have descended from the original tumbler stocks. Some of the more popular breeds today include:
Australian Performing Tumbler
Berlin Short-faced Tumbler
Berlin Long-faced Tumbler
English Long-faced Tumbler
English Short-faced Tumbler
Iranian Highflying Tumbler
Vienna long-faced tumbler
West of England TumblerVoorburg Shield Cropper
The Voorburg Shield Cropper is a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding. Voorburg Shield Croppers, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia). This breed was developed by C.S.T. Van Gink at Voorburg in the Netherlands in 1935.