Feral Pigeon

Columbia livia

Feral Pigeon. Photo: John Spiers

The Rock Dove is native to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. They were first domesticated by the Egyptians over 5,000 years ago, and have since traveled with humans to all parts of the globe including Australia. Many birds escaped captivity and established breeding colonies throughout the country.

Feral Pigeons feed on food scraps in urban areas and with agricultural grains, supplemented by the seeds of grasses and herbs in country areas. They feed on the ground commonly on flocks which may be large.

Potentially they can breed all year round but do so mainly in spring and summer. The nests are laid on any flat surface with buildings, bridges and other structures replacing the cliff ledges of their ancestors. Two glossy white eggs are laid. Incubation takes 17-19 days. The young fledge in 30-35 days.


Males and females are alike without any seasonal variation. Some birds resemble the ancestral Rock Pigeon (e.g. the example in the photo above), but others show the marks of the numerous breeds established by pigeon fanciers. The fancier breeds (tumblers, fantails etc.) do not survive in the wild. The population overall is very variable. Generally, the eye is yellow, the bill black, the cere whitish or grey and the legs and feet coral red with dark claws. Often there are two black bars on the wings and a green to red iridescence on the neck. Typically, they glide with the wings held in a high ā€œVā€. Immatures are duller with reduced iridescence. The downy young are usually yellowish.

Where to find it

Feral Pigeons may be found throughout South Australia, but mainly on man-made habitats such as agricultural land, and towns. In some places their droppings make them a pest that requires controlling. They are mainly sedentary.