Also known as the Rock Dove, the Rock Pigeon is a bird whose species includes the domestic pigeon as well as escaped domestic pigeons known as feral pigeons. There are 12 different types of sub-species, and they are:
- Columba livia livia – most common pigeon species in western and southern Europe, north Africa, and western Asia.
- Columba livia atlantis – derived from feral pigeons and live in Madiera, Azores, and Cape Verde
- Columba livia canariensis – live in the Canary Islands
- Columba livia gymnocyclus – black head, rump and underparts with a white back
- Columba livia targia – small and has a concolorous back. Lives in the mountains of the Sahara Desert
- Columba livia dakhlae – this clever pigeon only stays near to the two oases in central Egypt
- Columba livia schimperi – found in the Nile Delta
- Columba livia palaestinae – lives in the middle east, is larger than its Nile Delta cousin
- Columba livia gaddi – is larger and paler than the pigeon breed above and integrates with both western and eastern pigeon sub-species
- Columba livia neglecta – lives in the Central Asian mountains
- Columba livia intermedia – lives in Sri Lanka and India
- Columba livia – lives in Mongolia and northern China, originating from feral pigeons
The adult rock pigeon is about 32 to 37 centimeters long, and has a wingspam over one meter long. It can be quite colorful, except when it is in its juvenile form as the colors are lacklustre. When they are flying, they coo. They are also smart birds, as its glides frequently instead of flying to conserve energy.
Rock pigeons are adaptable creatures that are happy to live anywhere, and mate any time of the year. They can live from buildings, walls, and even statues. When they are drinking, they will take a small sip and slightly tilt their head backwards in order to swallow their drink. When a group of pigeons are disturbed, they will fly off with a noisy clapping sound.
The pigeon is preyed on by many animals. They are preyed on by peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks, opossums, raccoons, great horned owls, and eastern screech-owls. On the ground, their main threat are cats who hunt these birds and their eggs.
Sadly for pigeons, they have been given a bad name by humans as they have been falsely accussed of spreading human disease. Although contact with a pigeon’s droppings does pose a minor risk of contracting histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, psittacosis, and possibly bird flu.
Despite this, the pigeon has been a friend to humans for years as a pet, and as a homing or carrier pigeon. In fact, there are many pigeons who have received bravery awards and medals for their services. Some of the most famous pigeons include Cher Ami who received the French Croix de Guerre for its World War I efforts, an Irish pigeon called Paddy, and the American pigeon called G.I. Joe. Yes, that’s right – one of the world’s favourite action figure and smash hit movie shares the same name with a war pigeon!