Hi Folks 🙂
Any idea what this bird is called?
It is more commonly seen outwith cities, but, over the last years, we are seeing more and more in urban settings.
See if you can find it under ‘P’ here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/
Challenge – can you draw this one?
This bird is a wood pigeon.
Clothes and behaviour
The female (Mrs) and male (Mr) have the same colouring.
A wood pigeon is a distinguished-looking bird with a blueish head, white collar, salmon-pink breast and a light grey back.
They are big, plump birds, but are shy and easily disturbed. If you’re in a wooded area and you hear a sudden ‘clap-clap’ and the sound of wings crashing through branches, it could be wood pigeons fleeing away from what they perceive as danger.
On the ground they can appear clumsy, with their small legs and large bulk. But despite their size they’re elegant fliers and can reach high speeds rapidly.
Wood pigeons often gather in groups high in a tree, but they can sit so quietly you might not notice them:
But more often than not, you’ll hear them before you see them! Listen here:
Wood pigeons eat buds, shoots, grain, seeds and some vegetables – so watch out gardeners!
Nesting and young
Mating and nesting times are variable, depending on situ and weather, but wood pigeons can have up to three broods a year.
You may see a wood pigeon rise up in the air, clap its wings and sail back down – this is the male’s mating dance.
The pair make a stick nest, often in a tree or on a flat surface, laying up to three white oval eggs.
When the chicks hatch they’re initially fed on a gloopy milk, secreted from a specialised gland in the parent’s crop. This is richer than human milk and the chicks grow rapidly. They then begin to eat similar food to the parents.
Wood pigeons are not to be confused with these birds:
Rock pigeons usually nest on cliffs or bridges near open water and are very flighty if approached. They are smaller and hardier than feral pigeons, though the colouring can be similar.
If you see a pigeon on the beach or a bridge near the sea, it is most likely to be a rock pigeon:
These birds are the most common ones seen in town and are originally descended from rock pigeons. Read more here: https://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/about-pigeons.html#about2
Colours vary hugely in feral pigeons. We have a white one that visits our garden.
Many of them are descendants of racing pigeons that were owned by local enthusiasts who’d keep their birds in sheds – you can still see remains of these on back lanes or on railway embankments. When the owner no longer wanted them, these birds were released and have made their homes wherever they can find a convenient nesting site.
Sing a song – here’s a song that’s very special to me, about a racing pigeon 🙂 It’s called ‘The King of Rome’ and was written by Dave Sudbury.
In the past, pigeons were kept on estates and their eggs eaten, their dung used to fertilise the fields.
For thousands of years pigeons have been used to carry messages behind enemy lines during wartime very successfully. Read more here: https://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/about-pigeons.html#about5
Challenge – from the photos are there any other distinguishing features you notice that can help you identify which pigeon you are seeing?
Challenge – how many colours of feral pigeon can you see near you?
See you soon 🙂