Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
Common in most built-up areas, the Rock Dove is familiar to most people. Flocks of ‘pigeons’ have been a regular sight in Australia since the first birds were released in the 1870s. Since then, the population is regularly added to by ‘homing pigeons’ becoming lost and joining wild birds. The natural plumage of Rock Doves consists of largely blue-grey feathering, with an iridescent purple or green sheen on the neck and breast, and two black bars across the wings. However, many different variations have developed over the years.
Australian Rock Doves, also known as Feral Pigeons, are descended from the Rock Dove, found in Europe and Asia. Many plumage variants have been developed by selective breeding over the years and the most common colours of feral birds are a mixture of grey, black, white and brown, with purple and green sheens.
The most common call is a moaning ‘cooo-rooooo-cu-cu’.
The Rock Dove is native to Europe, Africa and Asia. In Australia, the Rock Dove has not ventured far from human settlement, being found in large numbers in capital cities and larger towns, with the exception of Darwin
In its native range, the Rock Dove prefers open agricultural areas. Wild birds have been largely swamped by the great numbers of feral individuals. These feral populations are closely associated with human settlement in many countries throughout the world.
Rock Doves nest in large colonies which can deface buildings with their droppings.
Although it is mainly a seed-eater, the Rock Dove will sample most scraps. In city streets and parks, birds are seen pecking at the ground in a never-ending search for food.
Nesting sites are situated along coastal cliff faces, as well as the artificial cliff faces created by apartment buildings with accessible ledges or roof spaces. Rock Doves nest in large colonies which quickly deface buildings with their droppings.