Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For the New Zealand Wood Pigeon see Kereru.
In the colder northern and eastern parts of its European and western Asiatic range the Wood Pigeon is a migrant, but in southern and western Europe it is a well distributed and often abundant resident.
The three western European Columba pigeons, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove and Rock Dove, though superficially alike, have very distinctive characteristics; the Wood Pigeon may at once be told by its larger size at 16 inches (41 cm) and the white on its neck and wing. It is otherwise a basically grey bird, with a pinkish breast.
It breeds trees in woods, parks and gardens, laying two white eggs in a simple stick nest. Its flight is quick, performed by regular beats, with an occasional sharp flick of the wings, characteristic of pigeons in general. It takes off with a loud clattering.
It perches well, and in its nuptial display walks along a horizontal branch with swelled neck, lowered wings, and fanned tail. During the display flight the bird climbs, the wings are smartly cracked like a whiplash, and the bird glides down on stiff wings.
The Wood Pigeon is gregarious, often forming very large flocks outside the breeding season. Most of its food is vegetable, taken from open fields or gardens and lawns; young shoots and seedlings are favoured, and it will take grain.
The call is a characteristic cooing. This species can be an agricultural pest, and it is often shot, being a legal quarry species in most European countries. It is wary in rural areas, but often quite tame where it is not persecuted.
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