Are rock doves the same as feral pigeons?

Answered by John Hunt

Rock doves, also known as wild pigeons, are indeed the same species as feral pigeons. The term “feral” refers to domesticated animals that have returned to the wild and are now self-sustaining populations. In the case of pigeons, they were originally domesticated for various purposes, including providing food and carrying messages.

The process of domestication began thousands of years ago, and rock doves were selectively bred for specific traits, such as size, color, and behavior. Over time, these domesticated pigeons escaped or were released into the wild, where they adapted to their new environment and eventually formed feral populations.

One of the remarkable things about feral pigeons is their incredible adaptability. They have successfully colonized urban areas all around the world, thriving in cities and towns where they can find ample food sources and suitable nesting sites. You can spot them perched on buildings, window sills, and even statues, often forming large flocks.

Despite their domestic origins, feral pigeons have reverted to a more natural state, resembling their wild ancestors, the rock doves. They exhibit a wide range of colors and patterns, which is a result of genetic variation within the population. Some individuals are bluish-gray, while others are darker or even black. There are also pale gray pigeons with darker chequered markings, and some have an unusual shade of dull brick-red or cinnamon-brown.

The diversity in coloration among feral pigeons can be quite fascinating to observe. It is a testament to the genetic diversity that exists within the species, as well as the influence of natural selection acting upon them in their new urban habitats. The urban environment has shaped the behavior and appearance of feral pigeons, making them distinct from their wild counterparts in some ways.

In terms of behavior, feral pigeons have adapted to living alongside humans, often taking advantage of the food sources provided by urban settings. They have become accustomed to human presence and may even approach people in search of food. This behavior has led to a somewhat contentious relationship between pigeons and humans, as some people view them as pests, while others appreciate their presence.

Personally, I have encountered feral pigeons in various cities I have visited. While some people may find them bothersome, I find them interesting to observe. Their ability to navigate busy streets and coexist with humans is impressive. I have noticed the different colorations among feral pigeons, and it always amazes me how these urban birds can display such a range of hues and patterns.

Rock doves and feral pigeons are indeed the same species. The term “feral” simply denotes their return to the wild, where they have adapted and formed self-sustaining populations. Feral pigeons exhibit a wide range of colors and patterns, reflecting their genetic diversity and the influence of their urban environment. While opinions about them may vary, there is no denying the adaptability and resilience of these fascinating birds.