Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rock Pigeons

Rock Pigeons are descended from Rock Doves, a coastal cliff dwelling bird.  The Rock Pigeon does not participate in migration, he remains in his territory throughout the year.  Territories include all of the US and southern Canada as well as other areas throughout the world.  The Pigeon is most commonly seen where people live.  Thus, a large percentage of the Rock Pigeon's diet is that which people feed him. 

As Pigeons go, the Rock Pigeon is medium sized, 13-14 inches long.  For comparison, Mourning Doves are 11-13 inches long.  In the above picture: a Mourning Dove is on the top left, two Pigeons are on the right.  Pigeons are stouter than doves as well as more colorful.  Both Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves have pretty red-orange colored feet.

Pairing off

Rock Pigeons mate for life.  It all begins when their eyes meet across a crowded flock.  He makes his way toward her, presenting his chest in a most virile way.  She simpers.  He Bows and does a Tail-drag.  She pecks at the ground with increasing intensity.  He draws closer.  She coquettishly walks away.  He pursues her (Driving) employing his most manly gait.  This continues until eventually she stops and gives in to the romance.

He opens his beak, she places her beak inside his.  They bob their heads up and down.  He regurgitates into her throat.

They choose a nest site above ground, usually in dark nooks such as in a building facade or under a bridge.  The nest is made out of stiff twigs.  During the nest construction phase, the male can be observed seizing a twig and giving it a shake before adding it to the nest.

The female lays 2 eggs.  Both parents incubate the eggs for 18 days.  (This is quite a bit longer than other birds,  for example the Red Winged Black Bird incubates for 10 days, the Grackle for 11 days).  When the babies hatch, the parents feed them regurgitated food.  Soon, the youngsters are also given solid food such as fruit and caterpillars.  Once the baby Pigeons leave the nest they are nearly as large as their parents.  The adolescent birds are identifiable by a less vibrant iridescence of their feathers and less brightly colored feet than the adults.

Some Rock Pigeon Facts

- life span: 3-5 years in the wild, up to 15 years in captivity
- predators:  Peregrine Falcon, hawks, cats
- feather colors:  iridescent blue-grey, black, blue, red, white
- diet:  grains, seeds, bugs, stuff people feed them such as hamburger buns
- red eyes and reddish feet

See a nice picture of a Rock Pigeon.

Listen to Rock Pigeons.


  1. I'm so glad I'm not a pigeon.I don't thinkI'd let my hubby near me if he threw up in my mouth.


  2. We have maybe 30 Mourning Doves, another 30 other birds, and two squirrels at our door every morning. And if the food's not out there when they arrive, they can be pretty testy!

  3. He regurgitates into her throat?

    Wow... how romantic!

  4. his is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the excellent work. http://pigeonbasics.us