Rock Pigeon or Common Pigeon - Origin, Feeding and Care

Rock pigeon or common pigeon: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Rock pigeon (Columba livia), also known as...

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The rock pigeon (Columba livia), also known as the common pigeon, is the ancestor of the domestic pigeon. This species has an important variety of breeds, from which various colorations, combinations and forms of plumage have been obtained, which makes them unique and beautiful animals. Another aspect associated with this animal is its wide distribution, since in addition to being native to several countries, it has been introduced to many others.

Continue reading this breed sheet from PlanèteAnimale and get to know all the characteristics of the Rock Dove.


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe

Characteristics of rock pigeon

The Rock Dove is the best known of all pigeons due to its wide distribution. His main physical characteristics are as follows:

  • In general, it has average dimensions, ranging from 31 to 34 cm in length for a wing span that oscillates between 63 and 70 cm.
  • Its average weight is around 360 g.
  • Its head is small and its body is relatively rounded.
  • The rock pigeon's typical color is a combination of gray with black, green and other shades. Head, neck and breast are dark grey. The neck and chest are a mixture of greenish and reddish or purple tones, there are two black bands on the wings, the abdominal region and the wings are light gray and in some cases there is a bluish band on the tail .
  • The iris of the eye is orange or reddish, with a lighter ring towards the center.
  • The beak is dark gray or black with a distinctive whitish protuberance.
  • The coloring of the legs is reddish.
  • Females and males are almost identical, only the greenish and reddish/purple iridescence of the neck and chest is less intense in females. Males also tend to be larger, with a more pronounced chest and a characteristic vertical line across the abdomen.

Habitat of rock pigeon

Native to Southwest Asia, North Africa and Europe, the Rock Dove was introduced to a number of countries around the world after being domesticated. The world population of the rock pigeon is so large that it has been estimated at more than 260,000,000 individuals. In Europe alone, it is estimated that there are between 22,100,000 and 45,200,000 adults.

The rock pigeon's habitat has expanded over time and today consists of several areas. On the one hand, it thrives in the crevices that form in the rocky cliffs adjacent to the sea. It is also present in cultivated areas, regions with shrubby vegetation and rural areas where there are old farms. It avoids ecosystems with tall, leafy vegetation.

But as we mentioned, it has been introduced globally, so it is a very common animal in cities, being present on countless buildings of all types, which in many cases brings certain problems due to the accumulation of faeces and feathers, considering that it can transmit various pathogens that affect people and pets.

Habits of rock pigeons

The rock pigeon has diurnal habits. While at night, it usually roosts in shelter.During its hours of activity, it generally moves in regular flight. When on the ground, it walks or even runs with a typical bobbing of the head, which moves back and forth. When temperatures are very high, it also often seeks shelter.

It is common to observe the common pigeon in groups, either flying or feeding, but it does not usually interact with other individuals of the species. In urban areas, they are commonly observed in certain spaces frequented by people, which proves their lack of shyness.

This species of pigeon emits vocalizations to communicate. When it senses danger, it flaps its wings just before taking off, producing a characteristic sound that alerts other pigeons.

Reproduction of Rock Dove

It is a monogamous species of pigeon, so it forms long-lasting pairs that are believed to be permanent. Find out how monogamous animals are in this other article.Reproduction can take place at any time of the year, for which the male performs a courtship display, which consists of chasing the female and performing certain movements until he mounts her for a short time.

The male builds the nest. When ready, the female will lay an average of 2 eggs, which will be incubated by both parents, who cooperatively participate in the whole process, including the care and feeding of the hatchlings. The average incubation period is 18 days, after which hatching occurs.

The rock pigeon becomes sexually mature about 5 months after birth, which occurs in both males and females. Its life expectancy differs considerably, since in the wild it is about 6 years old, while in captivity it can live 35 years.

Rocker pigeon feeding

Although they are actually omnivores, they prefer a herbivorous diet.Thus, they mainly consume different types of seeds such as corn, but also oats, cherries, barley, elm and poisonous hydra. They may end up eating spiders, insects, and worms. However, as a species that evolved significantly with humans, they have adapted to the food they obtain from the scraps or waste we leave behind. It is therefore common for them to ingest a large amount of food that people throw away. A certain habit has also developed in certain places of social gathering, such as parks or squares, where these animals are fed popcorn or hard bread.

Rock pigeons tend to feed early in the morning and in the evening, which is usually done in groups. Indeed, in certain places that favor their presence, they form large congregations to feed.

" Find out all the details of their diet in this other article: What do pigeons eat."

State of conservation of rock pigeon

" The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Rock Dove as Least Concern, with a declining population trend. However, its distribution is so wide that it does not approach vulnerability thresholds."

A particular characteristic of this species is that the wild form has interbred extensively with the domesticated form as, over time, the geographic boundaries between the two have overlapped. Due to these interbreeding, it is assumed that the wild population is in decline. As of 2019, there is no known conservation program for this species.

It's important to remember that although many people choose to share their lives with a Rock Dove or any other breed, they are animals that need to fly and move freely. Keeping them confined in a cage is not positive at all and does not respect animal welfare freedoms.If we find an injured common pigeon in the street, we can help it, but once it is cured, if possible, it is advisable to release it into the wild.

Pictures of rock pigeon or common pigeon

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