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Species Guide
A photo of a Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Rock Dove

Rock Dove

Columba livia

The Rock Dove, commonly known as the Rock Pigeon or simply "pigeon," is a familiar bird that graces our cityscapes with its presence. This bird, with its robust body, rounded head, and stout bill, is a member of the Columbidae family. The wild form of the pigeon, Columba livia, is the progenitor of the domesticated varieties that are well-known to many. The wild Rock Dove sports a pale grey plumage adorned with two striking black bars on each wing, while domestic and feral pigeons exhibit a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns.

Identification Tips

Adult Rock Doves typically measure between 29 to 37 cm in length, boasting a wingspan of 62 to 72 cm. They possess a dark bluish-grey head, neck, and chest, with an iridescent sheen that dances in shades of yellow, green, and reddish-purple along their neck and wing feathers. The eyes are often a vivid orange, red, or golden color, surrounded by bluish-grey skin. The bill is a muted grey-black, capped with a noticeable off-white cere, and the feet present in purplish-red hues.


Rock Doves favor open and semi-open environments where they can forage on the ground. In the wild, they roost and breed on cliffs and rock ledges, but have adapted remarkably well to urban environments where buildings mimic their natural nesting sites.


Originally hailing from Southern Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, Rock Doves have spread to cities worldwide. Their population is abundant, with millions of feral and wild birds established across the globe.


Rock Doves are generally monogamous and exhibit strong parental care, with both parents tending to their young. They are gregarious outside of the breeding season, often forming large flocks. Their flight is characterized by a mix of powerful wingbeats and graceful gliding, with a distinctive V-shaped wing posture.

Song & Calls

The Rock Dove's call is a soft, cooing sound that varies slightly depending on the context, such as an alarm call or a nest call. Non-vocal sounds include the loud flapping noise at take-off and the snapping of beaks, particularly by juveniles.


Rock Doves breed throughout the year, peaking in spring and summer. They typically lay two eggs per brood, with both parents sharing incubation duties. The young, called squabs, are fed on "crop milk" produced by both parents.

Similar Species

The Rock Dove may be confused with other pigeon species, but its white lower back and the two black bars on its pale grey wings are distinctive identification features.

Diet and Feeding

These birds are omnivorous, with a preference for plant matter such as fruits and grains. They have adapted to urban environments where they often scavenge for human-provided food sources.

Conservation status

The Rock Dove is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, with a stable and widespread population. However, the purity of the wild species' gene pool is threatened by interbreeding with feral pigeons.

Rock Dove Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Rock Dove Fun Facts

Did you know?
Rock Doves have cross bred with Domesticated Pigeons to form Feral Pigeons.

Rock Doves on Birda


More Pigeons, Doves

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