Species Of The Week Number 2: Wood Pigeon

To celebrate surpassing 100 species identified in the valley so far let's look at one of the most common, the Wood Pigeon.

There are actually five species of 'wild' pigeon and dove in the UK, only three of which regularly occur in Meanwood Valley: Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove and Collared Dove. The two species we don't have in Meanwood - so far at least - are Rock Doves and Turtle Doves both of which are increasingly rare.

We can also see flocks of domestic racing pigeons which are descendants, like the feral pigeons in the city centre, from the Rock Dove.

Wood Pigeon and Stock Dove are superficially similar but easily distinguished - the Wood Pigeon is bigger, and has distinctive white patches on its neck and wings which are visible even in flight. A Wood Pigeon also has a yellowish eye, whilst that of the daintier Stock Dove is black. The Collared Dove is much paler with a black ring around its neck - you don't see these as often in Meanwood.

We know from studies of ringed birds that the average life span of a Wood Pigeon is 3 years, but the record is 17 years from an individual that was ringed when young and caught again in Orkney. We also know that most Woodies are home-loving birds, with the majority staying within 3 miles of where they were ringed.

The Wood Pigeon's distinctive song is loved by some loathed by others, comprises a 5 note phrase split into 3 and 2. It has been described differently in different parts of the country. For instance in Norfolk it apparently sounds like "my toe bleeds, betty". Any suggestions for a Meanwood version?

Posted by clunym clunym, October 05, 2022 08:57 AM

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