GALLERIES > BIRDS > COLUMBIFORMES > COLUMBIDAE > ROCK-PIGEON [Columba livia]
Location: Monterey, CAGPS: 36.6N, -121.9W, elev=14' MAP
Date: May 26, 2007
ID : ? [3888 x 2592]
The Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, doves and pigeons. The bird is also known by the names of feral pigeon or domestic pigeon. In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon". The species was commonly known as Rock Dove until 2004, when the British Ornithologists' Union and the American Ornithologists' Union changed the official English name of the bird in their regions to Rock Pigeon.
The Rock Pigeon has a restricted natural resident range in western and southern Europe, North Africa, and into South Asia. 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. In Britain, Ireland and much of its former range, the Rock Pigeon probably only occurs pure in the most remote areas. A Rock Pigeon's life span is anywhere from 3–5 years in the wild to 15 years in captivity, though longer-lived specimens have been reported.
The species was first introduced to North America in 1606 at Port Royal, Acadia (now Nova Scotia).
The Rock Pigeon is 32–37 cm long with a 64–72 cm wingspan. The white lower back of the pure Rock Pigeon is its best identification character, but the two black bars on its pale grey wings are also distinctive. The tail is 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.
The head and neck of the mature bird are a darker blue-grey than the back and wings; the lower back is white. The green and lilac or purple patch on the side of the neck is larger than that of the Stock Dove, and the tail is more distinctly banded. These birds come in many different colours, dark grey, light blue/grey, brown, white, grey and white and more. Young birds show little lustre and are duller. Eye colour of the pigeon is generally an orange colour 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.
A white and grey Rock PigeonWhen 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 nowhere so plentiful as to be a pest.
The bowing courtship, when the metallic lustre of the neck is fully displayed, often takes place on ledges where Guillemots and Razorbills sit.
A small prehistoric subspecies of the Rock Dove that lived during the last ice age in France has been described as Columba livia minuta.