Rock Pigeon
Pigeon portrait 4861
A pigeon portrait
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Columbimorphae
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Subfamily: Columbinae
Tribe: Columbini
Genus: Columba
Species: C. livia
Binomial name
Columba livia
Gmelin, 1789[2]

Rock Pigeon, Columba livia (col-UM-bah LIE-vih-ah; 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[3]), also known as the Feral Pigeon are among the most familiar birds known to city dwellers[4]. They are native to Eurasia, being introduced to North America, Australia and South America.

Other names

Feral Pigeon, Racing Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Rock Dove.


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)[5].

Because of being domesticated, the colours of the birds are variable, from all white to all black[5]. 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[5]. The sexes are similar, but females have less iridescence on neck and breast[5].

Has hybridised with the Band-tailed Pigeon[5] as well as Mourning Dove and many Old World pigeons and doves[6][3].

Similar species


Rock Pigeons are intelligent birds, being able to discriminate between Monet, Renoir, Cezzane, Braque, Matisse and Picasso's paintings[7]. They can also identify the Peanuts character Charlie Brown[8].

It is one of the swiftest birds in flight, being clocked in Britain and France at 28-82 mph[9]; 82-94.3 mph[10][3].



Low pitched, gurgling cucucurooo[5].



Native to Eurasia, where they inhabit rocky sea coasts and desert canyons[4].

Also found in cities, parks, farms, bridges and cliffs[5].



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Columba livia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Columba livia". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  3. ^ a b c Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519. 
  4. ^ a b Foreshaw, Joseph; Howell, Steve; Lindsey, Terence and Stallcup, Rich (1994). A Guide to Birding. Fog City Press. ISBN 1877019348. 
  5. ^ 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 Check |isbn= value: invalid prefix (help). 
  6. ^ Gray, A.P., 1958. Bird hybrids, Tech. Communication no. 13. London: Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Riviere, B.B., 1922. Speed of the domestic pigeon. Brit. Birds. 15:298
  10. ^ Meinertzhagen, R., 1955. The speed and altitude of bird flight. Ibis 97:81-117

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