Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)

Also called city doves, city pigeons, or street pigeons, are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild rock dove, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. Rock (i.e., ‘wild’), domestic, and feral pigeons are all the same species and will readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs, have become adapted to urban life, and are abundant in towns and cities throughout much of the world.

IDENTIFICATION

Adult

  • The Feral Pigeon is similar in size to the Collared Dove – around 32 cm.Colouration however, is extremely variable.
  • Sexes are alike, as are young birds.
  • There is not one identifiable feature that is shown by all feral pigeons, they come in a huge array of colours and plumages.
  • Many look like original Rock Doves, dark grey (similar to Wood Pigeon) with two dark wing bars, glossy patches on the neck. Whilst others are solid grey, white and brown, chequered, black and white. The combination is endless.
  • The Feral Pigeon is The City/Town Pigeon.
  • Most plumages will show some sort of double wing bar.

Juvenile

  • Juveniles appear from March onwards; adults will breed whenever there is warmth in the weather and will often have up to 5 broods in a year.
  • They will nest on ledges and cavities in the city centres where temperatures are a little higher than the surrounding areas.
  • Young birds also have huge variation in plumage and are similar to adults, they lack the iridescent green neck patch and look a little paler headed, they have a dark bill and dark eye.

Status and Distribution

The Feral Pigeon is an abundant British breeding resident with well over 100 thousand pairs. The Feral Pigeon occurs in all counties and habitat types throughout the UK except for Northern Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland where the genuine Rock Doves still occur, these nest on sea cliffs in desolate places.

Habitat/Food

Feral Pigeons occur in all habitat types throughout the UK, woodlands, parks, gardens, farmland, hedgerows, towns and Cities. They are not shy and will happily take food from the hand in many locations. They are not fussy eaters and will eat anything from McDonalds to grain and shoots!

Song/Call

The Feral Pigeons song is quiet, low and mournful, repeated ‘ proowoo…proowoo proowoo’.

PROOFING

Successful control of feral Pigeons requires a close understanding of the pest species, its biology, lifestyle and habits.

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