Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
Photos ©2005-
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Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus, click for a larger image

Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
Family - Columbidae
Also known as - Common Wood Pigeon

A common bird found in most areas of Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, common in the U.k. growing to 40-42cm (16in) with a wing span of 75-80cm (29-32in) and weighing about 450-550g (14-18oz).  Overall grey in colour with a purple and green sheen, pinkish breast and green, white and purple patches on the neck, its eye is a bright yellow.  Juvenile birds are more brown and generally duller, lacking the white patch on the neck.  Wood Pigeons have a tendency to "waddle" when they walk giving them an appearance of being overweight.  A white bar across the middle of the wing is prominent during flight.  Mainly a ground feeder they eat seeds, grain, berries and acorns (becoming a pest in agricultural areas, occasionally doing some damage to crops), but will feed on almost anything that is placed on a bird table.  Eating mostly grain they tend to drink quite a lot because they do not get sufficient moisture from their food, unlike birds that eat earthworms, etc.  Whilst drinking they use their beak like a straw, whereas other birds scoop the water up and throw their heads back to let it flow down their throats.

A fragile nest forming a platform is built from twigs by both sexes usually in a fork of tree branches or on a building, occasionally reusing Crow or Squirrel nests.  Brooding up to three times a year between April and August, laying two white eggs per clutch that are incubated by both parents for about 17-18 days.  The chicks known as squabs are blind for the first 10-14 days being fed with "pigeon's milk", a liquid regurgitated from the crop.  Leaving the nest at 20-29 days, the young perch nearby where they continue to be fed by the parents.  They are usually about 35 days old before they are capable of independent flight.  A display flight is performed during the breeding season where they fly upwards, clap their wings, and then glide downwards.

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