Large pigeon distinguished by white throat patches and white wing crescents.
Common Wood Pigeon
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.
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 www.xeno-canto.org/626358.
The wood pigeon mainly eats plants such as shoots, seedlings, seeds, grain, berries and fruit. It will also eat snails and grubs.
Pair of Woodpigeons
In parts of southern England, woodpigeons are known as the Culver.
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
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.
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.
Juvenile/Baby Woodpigeons in nest
The typical lifespan for a woodpigeon is 3 years, but the maximum recorded age is 17 years and 8 months.
In Britain and Ireland, populations are mostly resident. Large numbers visit in winter from northern and Eastern Europe.
In Britain, the wood pigeon is a well-distributed and abundant resident.