Rock Pigeon

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Is the Rock Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Feral Pigeon; Rock Dove; Blue Rock Dove; Zuchttaube

Scientific name: Columba livia

The basics:
The familiar street pigeon, the Rock Pigeon, is the ancestor to all of the hundreds of varieties of domestic fancy pigeons available today, and you will find an exhaustive discussion of many wonderful pet, hobby, and exhibition varieties in the Domestic (Fancy) Pigeons category. These domesticated varieties have served almost every purpose that you can imagine, from delivering the mail, to producing fertilizer, to serving as food or as military heroes in time of war. For most people, it makes no sense to seek out a pet of this species in the original wild form, when there are so many fine domesticated varieties already developed throughout hundreds, if not thousands, of years of human selective breeding. We'll assume that if you do have a wild Rock Pigeon, it's almost certainly because you have a rescue or rehabilitated bird.

The Rock Pigeon's toughness, including their tolerance of conditions that would cause disease in humans and other birds, has sometimes caused them to be viewed as undesirable animals that spread germs. However, the Rock Pigeon is one of humanity's most ancient companions, and it is one of the most successful birds since the dawn of history. The wild birds have spread across the world, where they may be seen on every continent except Antarctica. They can gather in extremely large flocks in cities, towns, and even village squares, and they seem to seek out places of human habitation.

Do not take baby Rock Pigeons from the wild with a plan to train them as pets. This tough species may carry diseases that could be contagious to your family or your other pets, and taking any animal from the wild without the proper permits is illegal in some areas. If you have found a sick or injured Rock Pigeon, check with a local wildlife official or rehabber about what you should do next. Unfortunately, as a non-native feral species, a hurt or injured Rock Pigeon might not be eligible for some rescue facilities. It might also be illegal for you to release the bird back into the wild when it recovers. There is no substitute for contacting local wildlife officers to find out how you can help the bird without breaking the law.

The typical wild form of the Rock Pigeon is almost too familiar to need description – a chunky gray bird that flies well, with glittering green and purple at its neck, a bobbing head, and charming pink feet. However, you may often observe color variations among the feral birds, since lost and escaped domestic pigeons can still freely interbreed with the ancestral form.

265 - 380 grams (9.3 - 13.4 oz.)

Average size:
31 - 35 centimeters (12.2 - 13.8 in.)

10 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Rock Pigeons are intelligent birds who recognize the faces of those who are kind to them – and those who are generous to them. It should be a pleasure to teach your pet to fly to your hand for treats. However, be cautious about flying the birds outside, since they taste good, and many birds of prey enjoy nothing better than a delicious snack of fresh-caught pigeon.

Never place a wild rescue Rock Pigeon directly into an aviary. Quarantine the pigeon preferably until it has passed a vet check, to make sure that your bird won't carry diseases to your other birds. Cleanliness is, of course, essential with this species, so choose or design the cage or aviary with an eye toward being easy to clean. An indoor cage for a single bird should probably be at least 36” in length, 24” wide, and 36” tall, and if the bird never has access to natural sunlight, you should probably install full spectrum lighting. Don't isolate this social bird. If it cannot enjoy an aviary with non-competing species, choose a central place in the home where it can enjoy being around its new family.

As we all know, a Rock Pigeon will learn to fly to anybody who is generous with the bread crumbs, but your bird deserves more than a diet of scraps. Choose a high quality commercial dove mix. Wild bird seed mix plus safflower might also do nicely. But you also need to provide some variety – chopped fruits and vegetables, greens, pellets (perhaps sprinkled with apple juice), and even access to a few live insects can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients. All pigeons need access to grit and calcium. An indoor dove's body may have trouble using the calcium because vitamin D3 is often formed from sunlight. Talk to your vet or breeder about vitamin D and calcium supplements. And, yes, by all means, offer some bread to encourage bonding with your pet, especially if it is a single bird who cannot be returned to the wild.

Written by Elaine Radford


affectionate, intelligent, extremely low cost., Vocalizations, house pet pigeon


skittish, Aviary Bird, proper diet


heavy bodied bird, powerful fliers, wide variety

Helpful Rock Pigeon Review

Rock Pigeon

From Dudedudly May 27 2013 9:56PM


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