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Rock Pigeon

Columba livia ORDER: COLUMBIFORMES FAMILY: COLUMBIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common sight in cities around the world, Rock Pigeons crowd streets and public squares, living on discarded food and offerings of birdseed. In addition to the typical blue-gray bird with two dark wingbars, you'll often see flocks with plain, spotted, pale, or rusty-red birds in them. Introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1600s, city pigeons nest on buildings and window ledges. In the countryside they also nest on barns and grain towers, under bridges, and on natural cliffs.

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Songs

Song is a rolling series of throaty coos accompanied by strutting, bowing, inflating the throat, and fanning the tail.

Calls

Pigeons make a prolonged cooing sound at the nest when trying to attract a mate. When alarmed, pigeons utter a short grunting sound.

Other Sounds

When taking off, pigeons often beat the tips of their wings together on upstrokes, making a sharp slapping sound. Upon alighting, they sometimes deliberately and audibly stamp their feet.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Pigeons are attracted to open areas where they can find food on the ground. However, seed on the ground can attract rodents, so it’s best to provide only as much food as the pigeons can eat during their visit, or offer grain such as dried corn, peas, or sorghum on a platform feeder. In areas where pigeons are considered pests, some cities have ordinances against feeding pigeons.

Find This Bird

Look for Rock Pigeons in urban parks and neighborhoods, around farms, under highway or railroad bridges, and around tall rocky cliffs.

Get Involved

Pigeons can give students a whole new way to look at the world. Read the article "Pigeons Can Make a Difference."

Rock Pigeons are a focal bird species for the Celebrate Urban Birds! project. Conduct a 10-minute count and record whether or not you see pigeons.

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Bird of Paradox — Rock Pigeons May Be More Helpful Than We Realize

Rock Pigeon: Noble in its proper place (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center)

Darwin's Other Birds: Common domestic pigeons may well have provided the main inspiration for Charles Darwin. Read the article at Living Bird magazine

Pigeon Color Morphs poster

A Tale of Three Superdoves, Living Bird, Spring 2014

All About Birds blog, Not Just Sparrows and Pigeons: Cities Harbor 20 Percent of World’s Bird Species, April 29, 2014.