12 September 2013

Rock Pigeon or Rock Dove

The Rock Pigeon or Rock Dove is a member of the bird family Columbidae (doves and pigeons). In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as a "pigeon". 

Pigeons come in many different shades and plumage patterns. There is the typical “blue-bar” form (a bluish-gray bird with two black bands on the wing and a black tip to the tail); a “red bar” version (similarly marked, but with rusty red replacing bluish gray); “checker” (birds that have spots on the wings); “spread” (all black or all gray); “pied” (birds of any color that are splotched with white); and mostly red or mostly white forms. They average 13 oz. in weight and are about 11 inches in length. 

Feral pigeons form the majority of prey for several raptor species (who live in urban areas) like Falcons and Sparrowhawk, who are adept at catching them. 

Although the Rock Pigeon is a relatively strong flier, it also glides frequently, holding its wings in a very pronounced V shape as it does. Though fields are visited for grain and green food, it is often not plentiful enough as to be a viewed as pest. 

Excellent at flying

This bird is distributed throughout Tiruvannamalai District. In its perfectly wild state it lives in open country with rocky hills and cliffs. But mostly seen in a semi-domesticated condition, it lives in an urban environment close to man. The semi-feral stock has become inured to the noise of urban life and is now well established in most Indian towns. Grain warehouses, railway stations and old or disused buildings are their favourite places. 

Their food is comprised of cereals, pulses and groundnuts. Pigeons feed on the ground in flocks or individually. They roost together in buildings or on walls or statues. When drinking, most birds take small sips and tilt their heads backwards to swallow the water. Pigeons are able to dip their bills into the water and drink continuously without having to tilt their heads back. 

There are few visible differences between males and females. The nesting season of this bird is practically all year in semi-feral birds. Its nest is a flimsy collection of a few sticks on a ledge or in fissure of rocks, or on rafters and ceilings of dwelling houses, occupied or deserted. It generally lays two, white elliptical birds. Both sexes share all the domestic duties. 

The call of this bird is a deep gootr-goo, gootr-goo. The species is generally monogamous, with two squeakers (young) per brood. Both parents care for the young for a time. Baby pigeons are called squabs.

Pied Rock Pigeon nesting at Adi Annamalai Temple

Pigeon at Palani Andavar Temple, Girivalam Road

The Pigeon's happy abode

Nesting inside Temple, outside the Sanctum Sanctorum. Good Karma!

Cycle of Pigeon Hatching:  Hatching takes around 18 days. 

The newly hatched squab has pale yellow down and a flesh-coloured bill with a dark band. For the first few days, the baby squab is tended and fed (through regurgitation) exclusively on “crop-milk” (also called "pigeon milk" or "pigeon's milk"). The pigeon milk is produced in the crops of both parents in all species of pigeons and doves. The fledging period is about 30 days. Males guard and care for the female and nest. 

Young birds show little lustre and are duller. Eye colour of the pigeon is generally orange but a few pigeons may have white-grey eyes. The eyelids are orange in colour and are encapsulated in a grey-white eye ring. The feet are red to pink. 

The young mature and leave the nest 4 to 6 weeks after they hatch and more eggs are laid before the first young leave the nest. Breeding occurs during all seasons but mainly in spring and fall. Pigeons commonly live up to 15 years, but in more urban areas they tend to live only 3-4 years 

Cycle of Pigeon Hatching

Elliptical Egg

Usually there are two eggs per batch

1 day old "Squabs"

5 days old "Squab"

Age 10 days old

Age 22 days old

Adult Blue Rock Pigeons

The bird cycle sequence came from this link here.

The below narrative is taken from “Garden and Aviary Birds of India” by Frank Finn (1915) 

The Pigeons 

Pigeons form a family of birds which are found all over the world, and, like Parrots, are very distinct from all others, so that they are given an order to themselves. Their characteristics are easily seen in the common tame Pigeon—the weak bill, soft and swollen over the nostrils, the small head, powerful wings and heavy body clothed in close powdery plumage. The feet are also very noticeable, with three toes before and one smaller one behind, a single row of scales down the front of the shank and none at all at the back, which is covered with soft skin. Most Pigeons have red or purple feet, a few yellow ones. 

Pigeons build very slovenly nests of twigs or dry grass, generally on the bough of a tree, but sometimes, like the tame Pigeon, in holes. They never lay more than two eggs and the young from these are usually cock and hen. The eggs are always white or—very rarely faintly tinted and never show any spots. 

Rock Pigeon Nest Building 

The young are hatched blind and nearly naked and are very ugly helpless little things with swollen soft beaks. They do not gape for food like most young birds, but put their bills into that of the old one, which thereupon throws up the food from its crop and lets them suck it in. The proverbial Pigeons' milk really does exist as a matter of fact, for during the first few days of their lives the young Pigeons are fed on a secretion from the crop of the old birds, which much resembles milk in appearance and chemical composition. Later this is mixed with softened grain, until at length the old Bird gives the young the grain almost at once, merely keeping it in their crops till they have got enough of it. 

Grain of various kinds is, as everyone knows, the favourite food of most Pigeons, but as they cannot always get it they eat a good deal of green food and a few small snails as well. A good many species, however, are fruit-eaters, and never touch grain. These have stouter beaks and shorter shanks than the grain-eating Pigeons. 

Pigeons are strong fliers and use their powerful wings in fighting, their beaks being so weak, although they can do each other a good deal of harm with them if too closely confined. For, in spite of their reputation for gentleness, they are inveterate fighters in a petty nagging way. 

It is, however, in most cases almost impossible to tell the cock from the hen, as their plumage is exactly similar; the young are rather different in many cases. The actions of the cock when courting are very interesting and differ much in the different groups. 

Pigeons are not usually migratory and are most numerous in a hot climate; there are many wild species in India. 


tomelam@gmail.com said...

Wonderful, wonderful blog! Thanks a lot! We hope to try some of your recommendations. We live in Mysore.

animalsbirds said...

Rock dove Bird (Pigeon) Photos, HD Images Free Download