Common Wood-pigeon

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Common Name: Common Wood-pigeon
Scientific Name: Columba palumbus

Size: 15-17 inches (38-43 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia; In the colder northern and eastern parts of its Europe and western Asia range the Common Wood Pigeon is a migrant, but in southern and western Europe it is a well distributed and often abundant resident.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 30,000,000 - 70,000,000 Mature individuals. The population is increasing in many parts of its range as it can exploit human-modified habitats; it has expanded its range northwards to Fenno-Scandia and Faeroe Islands. In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate increase.

Diet: Plant material, seeds and occasionally insects.

Breeding: Juvenile birds do not have the white patches on either side of the neck. When they are about 6 months old (about 3 months out of the nest) they gain small white patches on both sides of the neck, which gradually enlarge until they are fully formed when the bird is about 6–8 months old (approx. ages only). Juvenile birds also have a greyer beak and an overall lighter grey appearance than adult birds.

It perches well, and in its nuptial display walks along a horizontal branch with swelled neck, lowered wings, and fanned tail. During the display flight the bird climbs, the wings are smartly cracked like a whiplash, and the bird glides down on stiff wings. The noise in climbing flight is caused by the whipcracks on the downstroke rather than the wings striking together. The Common Wood Pigeon is gregarious, often forming very large flocks outside the breeding season.

It breeds in trees in woods, parks and gardens, laying two white eggs in a simple stick nest which hatch after 17 to 19 days. Wood pigeons seem to have a preference for trees near roadways and rivers. The nests are vulnerable to attack, particularly by crows, the more so early in the year when the leaf cover is not fully formed. The young usually fly at 33 to 34 days; however if the nest is disturbed some young may be able to survive having left the nest as early as 20 days from hatching.

Cool Facts: The Common Wood Pigeon is the most common pigeon in the United Kingdom, with numbers having doubled from 2008 to 2009. Although they are often seen as a pest, and their urine can cause damage to buildings, the health risks carried by these birds are minute.

The three Western European Columba pigeons, Common Wood Pigeon, Stock Pigeon, and Rock Pigeon, though superficially alike, have very distinctive characteristics; the Common Wood Pigeon may be identified at once by its larger size at 38–43 cm, and the white on its neck and wing. It is otherwise a basically grey bird, with a pinkish breast.

Found in Songbird ReMix European Edition 2

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