Taxonomic name: Columba livia (Gmelin, 1789 )
Common names: pombo-doméstico (Portuguese), agreste (Sardinian), b? câu (Vietnamese), bákteduvvá (Northern Sami), balandis (Lithuanian), bareski-golumbaika (Romany), baresko-golumbo (Romany), bjargdúfa (Icelandic), bládúgva (Faroese), bládúva (Faroese), bydue (Norwegian), calman-creige (Scots), calmane creggey (Manx), carrier pigeon (English), colm aille (Gaelic, Irish), colom roquer (Basque), colom roquer (Galician), colom wyls (Cornish), colomba salvaria (Ladino), colomen ddôf (Welsh), colomen y graig (Welsh), colomp salvadi (Friulian), columba da chasa (Romansh), columba selvadia (Romansh), columbu agreste (Sardinian), columbu aresti (Sardinian), columbu de is arrocas (Sardinian), colu'r aille (Gaelic, Irish), common pigeon (English), didu (Sardinian), div gulab (Macedonian), divlji golub (Serbian), dobato (Japanese), domaci golob (Slovenian), domestic dove (English), domestic pigeon (English), dubet (Breton), dziwi holb (Sorbian, Upper), Felsentaube (German), feral pigeon (English), feral rock pigeon (English), golab miejski¦Golab skalny (Polish), golab skalny (Polish), golub pecinar (Croatian), golub pecinar (Serbian), gradski Golub (Croatian), güvercin (Turkish), haitz-uso (Basque), Haustaube, Strassentaube (German), holub domácí (Czech), holub skalní (Czech), homing pigeon (English), húsdúfa (Icelandic), kaljutuvi (Estonian), kalliokyyhky (Finnish), kawarabato (Japanese), kawara-bato (Japanese), kesykyyhky (Finnish), kieminis (Lithuanian), klinšu balodis (Latvian), klippduva (Swedish), klippedue (Danish), kolombo (Esperanto), kolomm an garrek (Cornish), naminis karvelis (Lithuanian), paloma (Spanish), paloma bravia (Spanish), paloma casera (Spanish), paloma común (Spanish), paloma de castilla (Spanish), paloma doméstica (Spanish), pecinar (Croatian), pëllumbi i egër i shkëmbit (Albanian), piccione (Italian), piccione domestico (Italian), piccione selvatico (Italian), piccione selvatico semidomestico (Italian), piccione terraiolo (Italian), piccione torraiolo (Italian), pichon (Breton), pigeon (English), pigeon biset (French), pigeon biset domestique (French), pigeon de ville (French), pigeon domestique (French), pomba brava (Gaelic, Irish), pombo da rocha (Portuguese), pombo o pombo-doméstico (Portuguese), pombo-das-rochas (Portuguese), porumbel de stânca (Romanian), pustynnik (Polish), rock dove (English), rock dove pigeon (English), rock pigeon (English), rotsduif (Dutch), ruve (Fijian-Fiji), sizij golub (Ukrainian), sizy Golub (Russian), sizyj golub' (Russian), skalen g'l'b (Bulgarian), šyzy holub (Belarusian), szirti galamb (Hungarian), tamduva (Swedish), tidori (Sardinian), tidu (Sardinian), Tkhakapuyt Aghavni (Armenian), tudun tal-gebel (Maltese), tzidu (Sardinian), Verwilderte Haustaube (German), Xixella (Catalan), yuan ge (Chinese), ziwy golub (Sorbian, Lower)
Organism type: bird
Columba livia is native to Europe and has been introduced worldwide as a food source, or for game. These pigeons prefer to live near human habitation, such as farmland and buildings. They cause considerable damage to buildings and monuments because of their corrosive droppings. They also pose a health hazard, since they are capable of transmitting a variety of diseases to humans and to domestic poultry and wildlife.
Rock pigeons have a grey body with a whitish rump, two black bars on the secondary wing feathers, a broad blank band on the tail, and red feet. The body colour can vary from grey to white, tan, and black. Body mass is highly variable ranging from 243 to 359g (Johnston & Johnson 1989) and averaging 28cm in length (Williams & Corrigan 1994). When they take off, their wing tips touch, making a characteristic clicking sound. When they glide, their wings are raised at an angle (Williams & Corrigan 1994).
agricultural areas, ruderal/disturbed, urban areas
Rock pigeons prefer human habitations and are commonly found around farm yards, grain elevators, feed mills, parks, city buildings, bridges, and other structures (Williams & Corrigan 1994). In some settings, rock pigeons will roost and nest in natural areas and make daily foraging flights of several kilometres (Baldaccini et al. 2000, Earle & Little 1993, Phillips et al. 2003).
Rock pigeons are known to transmit pigeon ornithosis, encephalitis, Exotic Newcastle Disease, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, salmonella food poisoning, and several other diseases (Weber 1979, Long 1981). Rock pigeons and their nests are infested with ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and mites, which can cause health problems for humans (Dautel et al. 1991, Haag & Spiewak 2004).
Rock pigeon droppings can accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase cost of maintenance (Haag 1995). Large amounts of droppings may kill vegetation and produce an objectionable odour. Around grain handling facilities, pigeons consume and contaminate large quantities of food destined for human or livestock consumption (Little 1994). Furthermore, rock pigeons located around airports can be a threat to human safety because of potential bird-craft collisions (Seamans et al. 2007). In the U.S. alone, they cause $1.1 billion dollars of damage in urban areas annually (Pimentel et al. 1999). In the Galápagos, the rock pigeon is the carrier of Trichomonas gallinae, a potentially fatal disease for endemic Galápagos doves and poultry (Harmon et al.1987).
Rock pigeons are kept and bred by pigeon fanciers for homing and racing competition (Robbins 1995) and in some locations such as Japan (Eguchi & Amano 2004) and the Galápagos Islands (Phillips et al. 2003) they are kept as a food source. In cities worldwide rock pigeons are a source of pleasure for many people who enjoy watching and feeding them.
Native range: Native to most of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa (Avibase, 2007).
Known introduced range: Throughout the world, including Asia, North and South America, Australasia and most island systems worldwide (Avibase, 2007).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Live food trade: Pigeons have been introduced as a food source (Eguchi & Amano 2004)
Transportation of domesticated animals: Europeans moving to new locations were a source of early introduced populations (Robbins 1995).
Local dispersal methods
Escape from confinement: Some rock pigeons kept by fanciers for homing and racing competition fail to return to their lofts, establishing new populations or bolstering existing ones (Robbins 1995).
Natural dispersal (local): Rock pigeons are not considered migratory, but are known to make daily roundtrip flights in excess of 50 km from roosting and nesting sites to feeding areas (Johnston & Janiga 1995). Within urban habitats, recruitment from adjacent rock pigeon sub-populations compensates for losses from natural mortality or control efforts (Sol & Senar 1995, Rose et al. 2006).
Preventative measures: Several techniques are available to prevent rock pigeons from establishing in an area or to exclude them if they are already established (Williams & Corrigan, 1994). Habitat modification includes physically altering roosting and nesting sites and removing food and water sources. The latter two aspects are critical for long-term control and require cooperation from the public. Exclusion methods, such as blocking access to roost sites or installing anti-perching devices are effective. Rock pigeons can also be prevented from perching or roosting by applying various chemical repellents to these areas.
Physical: Williams & Corrigan (1994) suggested that frightening, repellents, trapping, shooting, and nest removal may be useful and practical approaches to manage rock pigeons in conjunction with habitat modification measures.
Chemical: Toxicants, including both oral and contact poisons, may also be used to control rock pigeons. Oral poisons require prebaiting before the toxicant can be applied and can pose significant risks to non-target species (Williams & Corrigan, 1994). Fumigants can also be used to control rock pigeons, however, they are generally not practical (Williams & Corrigan, 1994).
Please follow this link for more details about preventative measures, physical and chemical control methods Hygnstrom, et al. 1994.
Integrated management: Eradication campaigns have been carried out on Isabela, San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz islands using a combination of methods: shooting, catching them by hand, using baits laced with alpha-chloralose to stupefy them (Phillips, R. B., unpublished data).
Rock pigeons are primarily granivorous, but will consume insects and other food items (Johnston & Janiga 1995). In rural areas, rock pigeons forage primarily in fields for grains, such as corn, wheat, barley, and oats. In winter when the ground is snow-covered, spilled grain at storage sites (e.g., silos and grain elevators) is an important food source. When available, high protein food items, such as peas, are preferred by rock pigeons. They mostly rely on free-standing water but can also use snow to obtain water (Williams & Corrigan 1994).
Rock pigeons are monogamous. The male provides nesting material and guards the female and the nest. The young are fed pigeon milk, a liquid solid substance secreted in the crop of the adult (both male and female) that is regurgitated. Breeding may occur at all seasons, but peak reproduction occurs in the spring and fall. A population of rock pigeons usually consists of equal numbers of males and females (Williams & Corrigan 1994).
Eggs are laid 8 to12 days after mating, with a normal clutch size of 1 to 2 eggs, but up to 4. The eggs hatch after 16 to 21 days incubation and the young fledge at 4 to 6 weeks of age. More eggs are laid before the first clutch leaves the nest. Sexual maturity occurs after 6 months of age. In captivity, rock pigeons commonly live up to 15 years. In urban populations, however, rock pigeons seldom live more than 3 or 4 years (Johnston & Janiga 1995, Williams & Corrigan 1994).
Reviewed by: R. Brand Phillips, PhD Candidate Department of Biology University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Thursday, 29 May 2008