Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Columba livia
Rock Dove
Domestic Pigeon


Distinguishing Features - Length: 28 - 35 cm; weight: average 227 g. Colouration: typically iridescent bluish gray with two black wing bands, a black terminal tail band, and white rump. Yet, in its vast range there are some obvious differences in its various population.

Rock Dove Habitat

Native to the Old World, this bird was introduced to North America and is now well established from central Canada southward; prefers urban areas and farms.


Primarily grain, seeds and insects; not adverse to scavanging for discarded "human food".


Throwbacks among modern domestic pigeons indicate a common ancestor, the rock dove. This tendency is clearly seen in street pigeons in cities everywhere. Many are white, reddish, or checkered like some of their cousins in racing-pigeon lofts, but most are somewhat narrow-bodied and broad-billed replicas of the blue-gray ancestral form. Street pigeons nest year-round, on buildings and beneath bridges, where they may be a nuisance with their droppings and transmission of disease.

This was perhaps the first bird tamed by man. Figurines, mosaics, and coins have portrayed the domestic pigeon since at least 4500 BC (Mesopotamia). From Egyptian times the pigeon has been important as food. Its role as messenger has a long history. Today it is an important laboratory animal, especially in endocrinology and genetics.

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