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Key Facts:The feral pigeon is descended from the rock dove and is well adapted to life in an urban environment. The dependence of the feral pigeon on man for food has led to it becoming a serious pest.
Description:The bird is about 33cm long and weighs on average 330g. There is a wide variation in the colour of the plumage. This species has no readily distinguished distress call.
Both old and modern buildings contain large numbers of ledges, girders and gaps which can be used by feral pigeons as nesting sites. Large numbers of nests are often found inside lofts of houses and commercial premises.
If conditions are favourable the birds will breed throughout the year, but the main breeding period is from March to July. Two white eggs are laid and are incubated by both sexes for 17-19 days. Young birds are independent at 30-37 days and 4-7 broods may be reared in a year.
Many pigeons in town centres are regularly fed by members of the public. They feed in flocks and tend to rely on food scraps and spillage in town centres and at food premises. Each bird eats about 80g per day.
Each flock of feral pigeons occupies a distinct territory which includes feeding, roosting and perching sites and nesting areas. The flock is in balance with the availability of food and breeding sites within the territory.
Within a flock there is a distinct order. The dominant birds feed first. Lower ranking birds are under more pressure to find food and harbourage. Birds are removed from a flock. Competition is reduced and the vacuum created makes the area more attractive to lower ranking birds from adjacent flocks where competition is more intense.