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Rock Pigeon

You may recognize today's bird. For it is the Rock Pigeon, conqueror of city sidewalks world round! Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) can be found just about everywhere, either as a native species or as an introduced one. Aside from urban areas, rock pigeons can be found in their native, rocky cliff habitats, and in open, unwooded areas. Pigeons are non-migratory, and they have the ability to find their way home from just about any location. It is speculated that they are able to do this because in nature they were forced to find their specific nest within a large colony setting.

Image from Birding Information
There are actually several subspecies of the rock pigeon. These include the wild birds, domestic pigeons, and the feral, city dwelling populations. There is evidence that pigeons were domesticated between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. Humans have used pigeons for many purposes over the years. They have been used as a food supply, as animals for experimentation, for sport, and as message carriers. During World Wars I and II, pigeons were used extensively as message carriers, and participated in battles such as Ypres, Verdun, and the Normandy Invasion. Several pigeons were award the Dicken Medal, the U.K.'s highest animal award. Charles Darwin wrote about Rock Pigeons at length, and even kept a few of them for his studies.

Pigeons are herbivores, and only rarely will they consume insects. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, and whatever things they can scavenge off of the sidewalks. In the wild they nest in high, cliff areas, which made the transition to urban dwelling perhaps a bit easier. Both parents care for their young, feeding them a substance called "pigeon milk" that is produced in their crop. Pigeons come in a wide variety of colors, though grey is the most common. Their feet are nearly always pink.


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