Friday, 5 July 2013

What are the Wood Pigeons doing?

If you saw my video yesterday, I have to make one correction (thanks to Trevor from The Herald).  The bird that died was a juvenile not an adult.  You saw it on the video as well as the still photo.  I should have recognised that myself as there was no white collar or greenish sheen on its neck.   Now yesterday I took another video of the Wood Pigeons again, of something that I have never photographed before and I still am not 100% sure what I am now seeing. Please watch the video and if you know for certain, then let me know please.

There are a few other garden birds also in the video and can be accessed at -

So before posting today, I thought I would watch out to see if the Wood Pigeons would come back to my garden and in the meantime I did a bit more research about them that I am going to share with you.

They lay 2 eggs and when they hatch, rather than feed their young insects, both parents initially feed the youngsters called squabs with a rich, creamy substance called 'pigeon milk' which is derived from the lining of the crop sloughing off.  This is more nutritious than human or cow's milk.   This usually lasts for the first 5 - 7 days or so, after which the parents regurgitate grain and seeds from their crops directly into the squabs in a pumping action. I think this is what I had videoed yesterday.  Can anyone else confirm this for me?  The chicks become independent after a month.

This is a juvenile Wood Pigeon I photographed this morning.
According to the RSPB, juvenile birds have no neck markings until approximately 6 months of age, at which time they gain small white patches on either side of the neck which then develop into fully formed bands at approximately 8-9 months of age. Also the beak of the juvenile may appear to be disproportionately large relative to that of the adult and its feet are a grey colour instead of pinkish like the adult.  Juveniles usually start breeding at the age of one year old.

This is the adult Wood Pigeon that I photographed this morning when it was in the company of the juvenile.

I wondered if this was the male or female bird and discovered that the male bird, in common with most pigeons, sits by day and the female from evening until the morning is well advanced.  So then is this bird above the female?  What I would like to know, is the male sitting on eggs as we speak!!  Or has something happened to one of the adults?  Wood Pigeon can breed throughout the year although the main breeding period is from June to November.

Three more facts about these birds are that they also drink a lot, mainly because they do not get sufficient moisture from their food, unlike birds that eat earthworms, etc.   An interesting feature about how they drink is that they use their beak like a straw, whereas other birds scoop the water up and throw their heads back to let it flow down their throats.

Secondly, their heavily scaled feet point inwards giving rise to the term, 'pigeon-toed'.

Finally, they have far better eyesight than humans and even though they can see colour in the same way that humans do, pigeons can also see ultra-violet - a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see.

Today, there was a lot of activity in my garden with a pair of Collared Doves flying back and forth taking nest material, Goldfinch and House Sparrow had brought their young to feed and Juvenile Coal, Blue and Great Tits all came to the feeders.  At one stage there were 6 Magpies and the juvenile was among them. Herring and Black headed Gulls flew overhead and of course the Dunnocks were skulking around the grass with a quick visit from a Robin.

So I will leave you with a video I took this morning when the Wood Pigeons were in my garden so that you can have a good look at them again.  It can be accessed at

Many thanks for visiting my blog and I would be very pleased to receive comments. 

Many THANKS for commenting yesterday in ANY of my posts.


  1. I'm not sure what the Woodpigeons are up to Margaret but they can be very noisy and argumentative during the breeding season. Nice shot of the juvenile - sometimes confused with Stock Dove. You take a good video.

  2. well, i'm grateful that it wasn't an adult who died so that one didn't lose its mate. :)

  3. You have a Grand Central Station in your garden, perfect for you. Fun video. I look forward to checking out pigeon's feet colours now. Great info.

  4. I do find they take off VERY late if mooching around in the lanes. Someone did tell me why once but I've forgotten. There is a very particular reason....Forgettabrain as Origami Boy would say.

  5. oh i enjoyed the video, looks like they are cuddling!!

  6. I never would have guessed the life of a wood pigeon could be so complicated. :)) Interesting how they have no neck band until they are 8- or 9-months old!

  7. No one? Alright, alright... What you are seeing is an elder juvenile being fed by one of his parents. The juvenile will flap its wings in effort to get the parent to come over. Once it does it will press the end of its beak to the corner of the adult's beak. If the parent is up for it it will open its beak. This then allows the juvenile to put his beak inside of the adults throat while the adult regurgitates all or some of the contents of their crop. This juvenile is old enough to be hunting on his own but just like some human parents; when your kids asks for something they give it to them...