ROCK PIGEON – (Columbia livia)
The Rock pigeon, or more commonly simply ‘pigeon’, is originally from western Asia, but has been introduced around the world, and has well adapted to living in cities. It is part of the dove family as the Latin name implies.
The rock pigeon is usually grey with an iridescent neck showing green, blue and purple colors, and two black bands on the wings. The eyes are orange. Both sexes are similar. It feeds on the ground from food scraps in cities, and grain. It is a walking bird, and it bobs its head as it walks.
Rock pigeons can harbour many parasites and may transmit them to humans. They do get infected with the West Nile virus but don’t spread it. However they can spread avian influenza.
This bird gathers in flocks, which can be seen occupying whole squares in cities where people feed them. When they perch and nest on buildings, their guano eventually damages buildings, to the extent that measures are now being taken to deter their feeding in public squares and also to prevent them from roosting on buildings (pigeon spikes). This is also why the peregrine falcon has been introduced (successfully) in some North American cities.
Because they can find their way home, pigeons have been used as ‘homing’ birds for all kinds of communication reasons including during wars.
The rock pigeon coos to attract a mate. The rock pigeon is very common in PEI and is a year round resident. This bird has been domesticated for several thousand years.