Rock Pigeon: Care & Maintenance | Everything about it | Interesting Facts

Rock Pigeons swarm the streets and public squares of towns all over the world, feeding on discarded food and birdseed supplies. 

What are rock pigeons and how are they identified?

They are medium-sized around 30-35 cm long compact pigeons that have two dark wing bars of 62-68cm wingspan. 

Their head is a darker blue-grey with an iridescent purple and green neck. Their lower back is white in color. 

Rock pigeons are also referred to as tubby birds as they have small heads and short legs. Their tail is broad, rounded, tipped, and dark in color and their wings are also broad but pointed. They frequently form flocks, walking or sprinting on the ground while pecking for food. 

When the flock is disturbed, it may leap into the air and circle numerous times before landing.

They can also be divided into male and female categories. 

Adult males have metallic green and purple iridescence on the neck and breast, orange to red iris, blue-gray orbital skin, greyish black bill, and dark red foot. 

Adult females are similar to males, but they have more confined and subdued iridescence on the neck and breast. Their skin is often browner and lacks iridescence, with grey orbital skin and feet in the juvenile stage. 

‘Feral pigeon’ and ‘domestic pigeon’ are two other names for the species. 

Until the British Ornithologists’ Union and the American Ornithologists’ Union changed the official English name of the bird in their respective territories to Rock Pigeon, the species was generally known as Rock Dove. 

Origin of rock pigeons:

Rock doves had a natural resident range in western and southern Europe, North Africa, and South Asia prior to the Columbian Exchange. Between 1603 and 1607, they were brought to the New World on European ships. 

The species (including ferals) has a wide range, with a global occurrence area estimated to be 10,000,000 km2 (3,900,000 sq mi). It has a sizable global population, with an estimated 17 to 28 million Europeans. 

The rock dove is thought to have originated in southern Asia, according to fossil evidence, and skeletal remains discovered in Israel confirm its presence for at least 300,000 years. However, because of the species’ long history with humans, pinpointing its original range is impossible.

Habitat and behavior of rock pigeons:

Rock pigeons are found in cities and towns. You can also see them around the farmlands and fields. 

Wild pigeons build their nests in niches in rock formations and cliff walls. They often develop enormous colonies of hundreds of individuals when they nest communally. 

Skyscrapers, highway overpasses, agricultural buildings, abandoned buildings, and other human structures with plenty of cracks are all good places for rock doves to establish their nests. 

As a result, humans are responsible for a major portion of the rock dove’s current range.

Pigeons feed on the ground and drink by dipping their bill into water and using it like a straw. Pigeons are granivorous by nature, eating only seeds that fit down their throats. 

Related Read: When Can Baby Pigeons Feed Themselves?

As a protein supplement, they may eat worms or insect larvae. They can’t digest adult plant tissue since they don’t have an expanded cecum like European wood pigeons, therefore they eat seeds instead.

Pigeons may bow and coo, expanding their throats and walking in a circle when threatening a rival. 

The rock dove breeds all year, although spring and summer are the best seasons to see them. Up to six times per year, eggs can be laid. 

During the breeding season, pigeons are typically seen in couples, but they are usually seen in flocks of 50 to 500 birds. A male pigeon courting his mate bows, coos, inflates his throat, then struts in a circle around the female pigeon. 

At any time of year, courtship behaviors can be seen in metropolitan parks. 

On the ground or on the rooftops, the male puffs up his neck feathers to appear larger and thereby impress or attract attention. 

He approaches the female at a fast walking pace, issuing repetitive faint notes and bowing and turning frequently as he gets closer. The female always walks or flies a short distance away at first, and the male always pursues her until she stops. 

He continues to bow and frequently does full- or half-pirouettes in front of the female at this stage. The male then feeds the female by regurgitating food, similar to how they feed their offspring. 

After that, the male mounts the female and rears rearward to unite their cloacae. The male flapping his wings to maintain balance on top of the female during the mating is very brief.

What do rock pigeons eat?

The majority of the items are seeds. Away from towns, it eats discarded grain, seeds from a variety of grasses and other plants, berries, and acorns; it may also consume a few earthworms or insects. 

In cities, they may subsist mostly on human-supplied bread crumbs, popcorn, and other junk food.

Nesting of rock pigeons

During nest construction, the female sits on the top of the nest and builds a fragile platform out of straw, stems, and sticks that the male brings to her one at a time. 

Pigeons reuse their nests multiple times and do not carry their nestlings’ feces away as many other birds do. This implies that the light nest eventually becomes a robust, pot-like mound, with unhatched eggs and mummies of deceased nestlings thrown in for good measure. 

Related Read: Do Pigeons Carry Diseases | Will they spread to humans? Health risks from pigeons:

The nest is frequently built on a cave ledge and is a little construction made of grass, heather, or seaweed. It lays two white eggs, just like most pigeons. 

Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for roughly 18 days. The nestling’s down is creamy yellow, and its bill is fleshy with a dark ring. Like other doves, it is pampered and fed “crop milk.” It takes 30 days for a chick to become a fledgling.

Wild Rock pigeons:

Ferals are frequently seen as pests or even vermin since they are thought to spread disease, inflict property damage, harass drive out other bird species and pollute the environment with their feces

Sky rats, rats with wings, and gutter birds are all terms used to describe them. They’re even referred to as “flying ashtrays” in Montreal, Quebec. Poison, hawks, and nets are used to try to reduce their numbers. 

Using the nets, however, has had minimal success as when the food is plentiful, these birds will breed, and they scavenge on discarded food items from individuals, restaurants, and supermarkets in metropolitan areas. They can breed up to six times per year in ideal conditions.

Can you eat rock pigeons?

Pigeons are widely consumed in many countries. They are considered a great delicacy in many places. Pigeons, referred to as bird meat, are considered to be a great source of iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and protein. 

Are rock pigeons good pets?

Yes, they make very good pets as intelligent, easy to look after, laid back, friendly, long-living, and quiet birds. They do not cause harm to anyone, they are gentle and also considered as one of the smartest species.

Even though the pigeon feces has bacteria and they can be vulnerable to ticks, fleas and lice, if taken care and groomed properly they can be your best pet.

Related Read: Pigeon Breeding Techniques | How to Breed Pigeons faster – Detailed Guide:

Facts about Rock pigeons:

1. A rock pigeon’s life span usually ranges from 3 to 5 years in the wild and around 15 years in captivity, though there have been reports of longer-lived rock pigeons.

2. Even if released blindfolded from a faraway area, pigeons can find their way home. They may be able to navigate via sensing the earth’s magnetic fields, as well as using sound and scent. They can also take signals from the sun’s position.

3. Pigeons were domesticated around 5,000 years ago, according to cuneiform writings from Mesopotamia and hieroglyphics from Egypt and therefore it’s impossible to say where the birds’ initial range was because they’ve had such a long relationship with people.

4. Rock pigeons during World Wars I and II, delivered messages for the US Army Signal Corps, saving lives and delivering crucial strategic information.

5. Following his five-year cruise aboard the Beagle, Charles Darwin maintained pigeons for a number of years. His studies of the wide diversity of pigeon breeds available, as well as the significant disparities between confined and wild pigeons, aided him in developing some aspects of his evolutionary theory.

6. Rock doves have broad wings with 11 primary feathers and low wing loadings; they have strong wing muscles and are among the most powerful fliers of all birds; they are also extremely maneuverable in flight.

7. Rock pigeons walk or gallop with their heads bobbing forth and backward and they fly in a straight and steady route.

8. The Columbidae family of birds, including the rock pigeon, have a unique way of drinking water. Most birds take a drink of water and then swallow by throwing their heads back. To drink water, the rock pigeon uses its bill as a straw.

Related Read: Can Birds Drink Milk | What Happens If A Bird Drinks Milk?