Rock Pigeon

From All Birds Wiki
Rock Pigeon[1]
File:Pigeon portrait.png
A pigeon portrait
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Columbimorphae
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Columba
Species: C. livia
Binomial name
Columba livia
Gmelin, 1789[3]
Click for other names
Other common names Feral Pigeon, Racing Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Rock Dove

Rock Pigeon, Columba livia (col-UM-bah LIE-vih-ah;[4] genus name from Latin, a pigeon or dove; species name: from Latin, blue, blue-grey, or lead-coloured, in reference to its largely bluish plumage,[4]) also known as the Feral Pigeon are among the most familiar birds known to city dwellers.[5] They are native to Eurasia, being introduced to North America, Australia and South America.


This highly variable city pigeon is familiar to all urban dwellers. Multicoloured birds were developed over centuries of near domestication.[6] Heavy-bodied, broad-shouldered, short-tailed pigeon with a relatively short neck and short stubby bill. Folded wings fall just short of the tail tip, but primary extension past tertials very long (which are longer than tail length).[7]

The sexes are similar, but females have less iridescence on neck and breast.[7] Adult males are metallic green and purple iridescence on neck and breast; iris orange to red; orbital skin blue-grey, and feet are dark red.[6] Adult females are like males, but iridescence more restricted and subdued.[6]

Because of being domesticated, the colours of the birds are variable, from all white to all black.[7] Most often dark grey head; iridescent neck and breast; pale grey back; two dark wingbars formed by dark tips to secondaries and dark bases to greater coverts and tertials.[7]

Has hybridised with the Band-tailed Pigeon[7] as well as Mourning Dove and many Old World pigeons and doves.[8][4]

Similar species[edit]

Some Rock Pigeons can be black, resembling the White-crowned Pigeon, but will normally show white on rump and lack the white crown.[6]

Rock Pigeon differs from Scaly-naped Pigeon in having a darker neck than body, grey upperparts, white rump and black bars on upperwing.[9]

Red-billed Pigeon, Band-tailed Pigeon lacks a white rump as well.[9]

Mourning Doves are much smaller, have a long pointed tail, and lacks white rump.[9]

Stock Doves are smaller, with grey underwings, vs the larger white underwings of the Rock Pigeon; smaller black wing patches and blue-grey rump.[10]

Common Woodpigeon is larger than the Rock Pigeon, with a proportionally somewhat longer tail and smaller head, appears fuller-breasted but nonetheless is more elongated.[10]


Rock Pigeons are intelligent birds, being able to discriminate between Monet, Renoir, Cezzane, Braque, Matisse and Picasso's paintings.[11] They can also identify the Peanuts character Charlie Brown.[12]

It is one of the swiftest birds in flight, being clocked in Britain and France at 28–82 mph (45–132 km/h);[13] and up to 82–94.3 mph (132.0–151.8 km/h).[14][4]



Low pitched, gurgling cucucurooo.[7]



Native to Eurasia, where they inhabit rocky sea coasts and desert canyons.[5]

Also found in cities, parks, farms, bridges and cliffs.[7]


  1. ^ John, Boyd. "Columbidae". Retrieved 10-26-2021. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |access-date= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Columba livia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012. {{cite web}}: Invalid |ref=harv (help)
  3. ^ "Columba livia". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  4. ^ a b c d Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519.
  5. ^ a b Foreshaw, Joseph; Howell, Steve; Lindsey, Terence and Stallcup, Rich (1994). A Guide to Birding. Fog City Press. ISBN 1877019348.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c d Dunn, Jon L. and Alderfer, Jonathan (2011). National Geographic Completely Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. ISBN 9781426213731.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Stokes, Donald W. and Stokes, Lilian Q. (2010). Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9770316010504. {{cite book}}: Check |isbn= value: invalid prefix (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Gray, A.P., 1958. Bird hybrids, Tech. Communication no. 13. London: Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux
  9. ^ a b c Alsop III, Fred J. (2001). Smithsonian Handbooks Birds of North America. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0789480018.
  10. ^ a b Mullarney, Killian (1999). Birds of Europe. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691050538. {{cite book}}: Unknown parameter |coauthor= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  11. ^ Watanabe, Shigeru; Sakamoto, Junko; Wakita, Masumi (1995). "Pigeon's discrimination of paintings by Monet and Picasso" (PDF). Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 63: 165–174. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  12. ^ Cerella, John (1980). "The pigeon's analysis of pictures". Pattern Recognition. 12 (1). doi:10.1016/0031-3203(80)90048-5. Retrieved 27 January 2013. {{cite journal}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  13. ^ Riviere, B.B., 1922. Speed of the domestic pigeon. Brit. Birds. 15:298
  14. ^ Meinertzhagen, R., 1955. The speed and altitude of bird flight. Ibis 97:81-117

External links[edit]



File:Paw 1.png This article is part of Project Aves, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird, including made-up species.
File:Rock Pigeon.png This article is part of Project Columbiformes, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each pigeon and dove, including made-up species.