Scientific name: Columba livia
Status: Resident but most birds are of feral origin
Breeding birds: 550,000 pairs
Conservation status: Green
Length: 31 – 35 cm
Wingspan: 62 – 70 cm
Weight: 230 – 370 g
Feral pigeons are descended from the rock dove which was originally domesticated to provide food. Feral pigeons are now found all over the world and come in many different shades.
Rock doves have blue-grey under and upperparts and a white patch on their rumps. There is an iridescent band of green and purple on their necks and they have grey wings with two black wing-bars. Their eyes and legs are red.
Feral pigeons may have similar plumage to rock doves but can be darker or lighter, have darker markings while others can be reddish-brown, piebald or almost completely white.
Feral pigeons build their nests on ledges such as cliffs but also in buildings using gutters, chimney pots or in roof spaces. The nest is constructed from twigs and made mainly by the female.
Feral pigeons lay 1 or 2 smooth, glossy white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 17-19 days. Chicks are fed until they fledge at 25-28 days.
Feral pigeons will eat seeds and cereals but will also eat kitchen scraps and other discarded waste in towns and cities.
Where to see them
Although the wild rock dove is found only on the north and west coasts of Scotland, feral pigeons can be found all year round across the UK. They breed almost everywhere except upland areas and are most densely populated in towns and cities.
Did you know?
In both the World War I and World War II pigeons saved hundreds of thousands of lives by carrying messages across enemy lines.