Monday, January 21, 2008


Click to enlarge

Or the "Pigeon Ramier" in french (I know you needed to know that).

I took this photo from inside the house again, so that explains the slightly out-of-focus shot. That and the fact that its pretty darn windy today - which was ruffling the fat pigeons thick plumage.

I posted about Woodpigeons first here, so no need to go over their extraordinary drinking behaviour again.

I will just add that there are possibly 3 million Woodpigeon territories in the UK presently, making it if not our most common bird, almost certainly the most commonly seen and recorded. A census, like the Collared Dove, is pretty well out of the equation with this huge population.

Anything else remotely interesting about the Woodpigeon?

Well... the fact that the adults breed from February to October, and feed their young a "milk" derived from the sloughing off fluid-filled cells from their crop - a milk that is very nutritious indeed - much more so than cows milk. (Tesco will no doubt stock it soon).

Young (fledged) Woodpigeon lack the thick white collar of the adults - it starts to appear after about 3 months, and becomes thick and adult like at about 7 months.

Woodpigeons make FIVE notes in their cooing calls, unlike the Collared Dove's more reedy three. Think "cu coo-coooo cucu", and you've got a Woodpigeon.

The popular notion that the CRACK produced when Woodpigeons are "display flying" is due to the fact that the Woodpigeons have crashed their wings together, is in fact untrue.
During the display flight the pigeon climbs, the wings are smartly cracked like a whiplash, and the bird glides down on stiff wings. The noise in climbing flight is caused by the whipcracks on the downstroke rather than the wings striking together.

Not one of my favourite birds, but very impressive and very successful, nonetheless.

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