Wood pigeons are one of the classic birds of the UK. Not only do they have the classic call that it's impossible to avoid, but they have a look that's instantly recognizable.
In this article, we're going to give you the low down on some common wood pigeon knowledge, from their behavior to their nesting habits.
About Wood Pigeons
The wood pigeon is the most common pigeon in the whole of the UK. Whether they're feral pigeons or ones that are trained for sports and leisure, they can be found across the whole country.
The wood pigeon itself is a fairly beautiful bird, in its own way - they boast grey feathers across their body, with a white neck patch, and white wing patches. They can also have iridescent green on the back of their neck, which makes them utterly eye-catching.
Countryside wood pigeons are typically quite shy. As a member of the pigeon and dove family, they're timid and retiring. A city pigeon, though, is an awful lot more tame and approachable. The odd city pigeon can be quite aggressive, swooping down to grab at a packed lunch.
Where do Wood Pigeons live?
Wood pigeons live throughout the UK, in almost any habitat that you can imagine. They live year-round since they're a bird that lives for multiple years. This means that year-round, you're quite likely to spot their largely grey forms in flight.
To seek out some wood pigeons specifically, you'd be best served by heading for fields and woods in the countryside, or parks and gardens in towns and cities. Their pinkish breast is quite easy to distinguish from flora, while their grey feathers are a little more camouflaged.
How long do Wood Pigeons live?
A wood pigeon can live for around six years, typically. That's around the average age for a bird of this size, such as a pigeon, crow, or magpie.
The maximum recorded age for a wood pigeon is much longer than that, though, at seventeen years and nine months! That's an awfully long time for a bird, let alone one often considered an agricultural pest.
Male Wood Pigeons & Female Wood Pigeons
A male and a female wood pigeon look quite different from one another. They also tend to behave a little differently, too - let's run through those differences for a few moments.
The primary physical difference between male and female pigeons is their size. Male pigeons are larger than females, as well as having a more rounded head and a thicker neck. This means that a male feral pigeon can often be quite intimidating to other pigeons - they can be quite large indeed.
The behavioral differences are quite small, but noticeable and in line with the physical differences. As well as being larger, a male pigeon typically coos more and is more aggressive overall. On top of that, they typically incubate the eggs, usually during the morning. Pigeons sometimes have more than two eggs, so this is just the job for a larger bird.
When do Wood Pigeons Nest?
The nest of a wood pigeon mating pair may seem a little undersized for birds as large as they are. However, the structure is typically sound and good - it needs to support their weight, after all.
What makes a breeding season longer?
Breeding seasons have traditionally been limited by the cold - wild birds will only mate when the world is warm enough for their young. With climate change continually having an impact on the world and continuing to go on, the length of UK breeding seasons has been steadily increasing over time.
Thankfully, this doesn't have any inherent negative effects. However, it's indicative of a larger problem.
What happens during a nesting season?
During a wood pigeon nesting season, an old nest may be used from a previous clutch or year, and sometimes a new nest is built instead. It's hard to predict which one of those paths the pigeons will go down.
Pigeons typically have two to three broods in a year. Each of these broods may have just two eggs in the clutch, which the parents will incubate in turns over the course of their growth.
When born, the young are fed pigeon milk, which is produced only by pigeons. This food is very rich indeed and helps the birds to grow well and quickly.
Wood Pigeons & Other Garden birds
Wood pigeons are perhaps not the most beloved British garden birds, but they're certainly one of the most common. They're often seen on bird feeders and are a fixture of the nation's gardens.
What do Wood Pigeons eat
Wood pigeons mostly like to have crops as their bird food. This includes cabbages, sprouts, peas, and grain. This is what earned them somewhat of a reputation as pests around farms - they'll sometimes venture out to eat directly from crops.
Less common food options
They are somewhat omnivorous, though they certainly have their favorites. In uncommon situations, they may eat buds, shoots, seeds, nuts, and berries.
When can you see Wood Pigeons?
A wood pigeon can typically be seen in a garden or in the park around the year entirely. These birds live for several years, and so often find themselves around the whole year-round.
Wood Pigeons Predators
Wood pigeons are lucky - they have a huge number of breeding pairs, which means that even the most determined predators can't make a dent in their numbers.
The main creatures that take the term 'bird food' a little too literally are birds of prey, foxes, and badgers.
The housecat and the wood pigeon
Housecats don't make our short list, surprisingly, as pigeons are more commonly caught in the countryside, where these other wild animals are more common.