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Columba palumbus

Large pigeon distinguished by white throat patches and white wing crescents.



Quick Facts


Scientific name:

Columba palumbus

Other names:

Common Wood Pigeon


Pigeons and doves

Conservation status:




40cm to 42cm


75cm to 80cm


480g to 550g

What does a Wood Pigeon look like?

The largest of the pigeon family, the wood pigeon can primarily be identified by its size, and although it appears similar to the rock pigeon and stock dove, it can be distinguished by the white patches on the side of its throat, which are ringed with dull green or purple. The distinctive white bars on the wings are also characteristic of the wood pigeon, and it has a distinctively longer tail than the rock pigeon. The tail is grey with a grey-white subterminal tail bar and broad black tail-band. The head, upper nape and wings are blue-grey or slate grey, while the breast is a warm mauve-pink. It has pale yellowish eyes above a bill that is reddish with a yellow tip and off-white patch at the base. The wood pigeon has short, powerful legs, mauve-pink, and feet with long toes for perching. Juveniles are much duller than adults and lack the white spot on the side of the neck.


What does a Wood Pigeon sound like?

Multisyllabic cooing with emphasis on the second note. During breeding season often voices a hollow, hoarse “hooo-hrooo”.

Common Woodpigeon Song/Call

Samuel Levy, XC626358. Accessible at

What does a Wood Pigeon eat?

The wood pigeon mainly eats plants such as shoots, seedlings, seeds, grain, berries and fruit. It will also eat snails and grubs.

For more information on what wood pigeons eat, check out this article.

Pair of Woodpigeons

Pair of Woodpigeons

Did you know?

In parts of southern England, woodpigeons are known as the Culver.

Where can I see Wood Pigeons?

Over the last 100 years or so, wood pigeons have extended their range northwards through Britain and Scandinavia. This is linked to the increase in agricultural production and the easy availability of winter food. They are widespread in Britain, often visiting gardens and increasingly seen in urban environments.

Woodpigeon in flight

Woodpigeon in flight

Signs and spotting tips

The wood pigeon’s flight consists of a high, steep climb followed by one or two wing claps and a downward glide on stiffly held wings with tail fanned. Take-off is quick and powerful accompanied by a noisy clattering of its wings. When alighting, it invariably raises and lowers its tail, a characteristic that aids long-distance identification. From a distance, it appears a uniform grey, but closer inspection reveals browner back and pink breast. Feeding birds look long-bodied and short-legged. They often forage on the ground in the morning and evening.

How does a Wood Pigeon breed?

Although wood pigeons often breed in pairs, they sometimes form small colonies, this affords their nests' extra protection from attacks by crows in spring. The nest is a flimsy platform of twigs high up in a tree. The female will lay 2 eggs and can raise 2 or 3 broods a year. Eggs hatch after 17-19 days. Breeding can happen year-round is there is an abundant food supply, although most commonly occurs in autumn.

For more information on wood pigeon nesting, check out this article.

Juvenile/Baby Woodpigeons in nest

Juvenile/Baby Woodpigeons in nest

How long do Woodpigeons live for?

The typical lifespan for a woodpigeon is 3 years, but the maximum recorded age is 17 years and 8 months.

For more information on the lifespan of wood pigeons, check out this guide.

Do Wood Pigeons migrate?

In Britain and Ireland, populations are mostly resident. Large numbers visit in winter from northern and Eastern Europe.

Threats and conservation

In Britain, the wood pigeon is a well-distributed and abundant resident.

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Learn more about the Woodpigeon

Similar birds to a Woodpigeon

Other birds in the Pigeons and doves family

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