Rock Dove (Pigeon)

Columba livia

A common sight in urban areas throughout the world, the Rock Pigeon was introduced into North America in the early 1600s. City buildings and their window ledges mimic the rocky cliffs used by wild pigeons.

Interesting Information

  • Because of their domestic roots, and because people have bred pigeons for many different colors and adornments, feral Rock Pigeons can have a variety of plumages. For a description of the most common varieties, as described for PigeonWatch, go here.

  • The Rock Pigeon makes a flimsy nest, but it often reuses the location repeatedly, building a new nest on top of the first. Because the pigeons do not try to remove the feces of their nestlings, the nest turns into a sturdy, potlike mound that gets larger month by month. Unhatched eggs and mummies of dead nestlings may also get cemented into the nest.

  • The Rock Pigeon has such a long history of association with humans, having been used for food and entertainment for over 5,000 years, that the original range of the species is impossible to determine. Escaped (feral) pigeons from pigeon breeders readily form flocks, and wild birds may join them.

  • Homing pigeons, domestic Rock Pigeons, are well known for their ability to find their way home from long distances. Despite these demonstrated abilities, wild Rock Pigeons are rather sedentary and rarely leave their local areas.

  • You can help discover new information about Rock Pigeons by joining the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's PigeonWatch.


Adult Description

  • Size: 29-36 cm (11-14 in)

  • Wingspan: 50-67 cm (20-26 in)

  • Weight: 265-380 g (9.35-13.41 ounces)

  • Large pigeon.

  • Color variable, but wild birds are gray.

  • White rump.

  • Rounded tail, usually with dark tip.

  • Pale gray wings have two black bars.

  • Wings broad with moderately pointed wingtips.

Sex Differences

Sexes look alike, but male averages larger and has more iridescence on neck.


Juvenile similar to adult, but duller and with less iridescence.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Found around rocky cliffs, urban areas, and agricultural areas.


Feeds on ground, in flocks.


Seeds, fruits, rarely invertebrates.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
    Subfamily: Columbinae
Genus: Columba
Species: Columba livia
    Subspecies: Columba livia dakhlae
  Columba livia gaddi
  Columba livia gymnocycla
  Columba livia intermedia
  Columba livia livia
  Columba livia neglecta
  Columba livia palaestinae
  Columba livia schimperi
  Columba livia targia

Similar Species

  • Mourning Dove is slim, with long, pointed tail with white outer tail feathers.

  • Band-tailed Pigeon has a dark rump and the tail tip is lighter than the base.

  • Red-billed and White-crowned pigeons have dark rumps and dark underwings.

Bird Sound

Song a rolling "Coo, rooc'too-coo."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution


Rock Dove

Hand feeding

Rock Dove

Nubbs the one legged Pigeon