Pigeons

Feral Pigeon (Columbia livia)

Pigeons are actually domesticated rock doves that have returned to wild or semi-wild conditions. Some rock doves were domesticated for food, others as homing pigeons, and some as ‘fancy’ pigeons, bred for their plumage.

Life span
They average 3-5 years in the wild. Captive pigeons can live for 15 years but some have been known to live for up to 35 years.

Statistics
Length: 29-33cm, Wingspan: 60-68cm.

Physical Description
Feral pigeons are a generally grey bird with slightly iridescent feathers on the neck that shine pink and green in the sunlight. Coloration is very variable with some individuals being white, others brownish-red, some grey and many mixtures. The eyes are orange and shine brightly in the sunlight.

Distribution
Feral pigeons are widespread and very common throughout Europe. They are also found in Africa, North America, South America and Asia.

Habitat
They inhabit coastal cliffs or buildings in towns and cities.

Diet
Wild rock doves feed on seeds but the diet of the pigeons has grown to include bread, vegetables, meat and other food discarded by humans. Pigeons are not generally fussy eaters, they have only 37 taste buds (humans have around 10,000).

Behaviour
Pigeons feed on the ground in flocks or individually. They roost together in buildings or on walls or statues. When drinking, most birds take small sips and tilt their heads backwards to swallow the water. Pigeons are able to dip their bills into the water and drink continuously without having to tilt their heads back. When disturbed, a pigeon in a group will take off with a noisy clapping sound. This helps inform the other pigeons that there is danger present. If a pigeon is alone it will respond to danger by keeping very still and trying not to be noticed. Pigeons are excellent fliers and can reach speeds of up to 50mph. They are capable of rapid dives and changes in direction and most of the time will easily out manoeuvre a bird of prey such as a sparrowhawk. They are resident and do not migrate.

Reproduction
During courtship the male will follow a female around bowing his head, fanning his tail and making ‘cooing’ noises. Eventually a short dance begins with the male’s beak being held in the female’s. Mating occurs shortly afterward and is fairly brief. The male sits on the female’s back flapping his wings to keep balance. It may take several clumsy attempts before the male successfully mates with the female. Nests are built by the female using material collected by the male. The female lays clutches of two white eggs. Young pigeons are known as ‘squabs’. They are fed from a special substance produced in the pigeon’s crop known as ‘pigeon milk’. This substance is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrate.

Our pigeon control services covers areas within South Birmingham and North Worcestershire which includes: Birmingham, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Halesowen, Barnt Green and Chaddesley Corbett.

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