Friday, December 16

Common wood pigeon

   ›      ›   Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus.

The common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) belongs to the family of pigeons, Columbidae.

These species of pigeons are distributed in Europe, North Africa, western Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The common wood pigeons are partly migratory birds with moderate forest dependency. There are four recognized subspecies of these pigeons.

Common wood pigeon - Overview

  • Scientific name: Columba palumbus
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Columba Palumbus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Columbidae › Columbiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Common wood pigeon, Chinese: 斑尾林鸽, French: Pigeon ramier, German: Ringeltaube, Spanish: Paloma torcaz, Russian: Вяхирь, Japanese: モリバト, Arabic: ورشان, ورشان ورشان,
  • Other names: Common Woodpigeon, European Wood-Pigeon, Cushat
  • Distribution: North Africa, Europe, western Asia, Middle East, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, grain, shoots, flowers, leaves, buds, berries
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The common wood pigeon is considered to be closely related to the long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz), the Bolle's pigeon (Columba bollii), the Afep pigeon (Columba unicincta) and the laurel pigeon (Columba junoniae).

The four recognized subspecies of Columba palumbus are: C. p. azorica E. J. O. Hartert, 1905, C. p. palumbus Linnaeus, 1758, C. p. iranica (Zarudny, 1910) and C. p. casiotis (Bonaparte, 1854).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) is a large sized pigeon, measuring 40 to 45 cm in length and weighing 275 to 700 grams. The wingspan is 70 to 80 cm.


These wood pigeon species have bluish gray plumage. The wings are paler bluish gray. The primaries are blackish with whitish edges. The breast is pale purple-pink. The belly region is light purple-pink or creamy white. The white patches on the side of the neck and the wing edges are the distinguishing features.

Adult common wood pigeon develops a greenish patch on the side of the neck and a pinkish patch on the lower part of the throat. The flanks are grayish. Both the male and the female look alike. The common wood pigeon juveniles lack the white neck patch, which they develop on maturity. The overall plumage of the juveniles is paler than the adults.

The irises are black with whitish skin around the eye. The operculum is whitish or pale pink. The upper mandible has a slightly curved tip. The bill is pinkish turning orange distally. The feet are pale pink. The wood pigeon call is a characteristic cooing sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus
Birds of India - Image of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus by hedera.baltica
Birds of India - Image of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus
Indian birds - Picture of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus by Andy Vernon
Picture of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus
Birds of India - Image of Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus by Tony Hisgett

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The common wood pigeon is distributed in Europe, North Africa, western Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, India and Nepal. In India these pigeon species are distributed in the northern regions of the states of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim.

The common wood pigeon subspecies C. p. azorica is distributed in the Archipelago of the Azores (Portugal). The subspecies C. p. palumbus is distributed in North Africa, Europe, Western Asia, Siberia, Iran and Iraq. It winters south of North Africa.

The common wood pigeon subspecies C. p. iranica is distributed in Turkmenistan, Central Asia and Iran. The subspecies C. p. casiotis is distributed in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, North Oman, Iran, North Pakistan and north India and Nepal.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the common wood pigeon species in Spain is Mountains of Barcelona. The IBA in Russia is Buzulukski forest. The IBA in Portugal are Cabeço do Fogo, Lomba Grande, Pico da Vara and Zona Central do Pico. The IBA in Czech Republic is Krivoklatsko region.

Ecosystem and habitat

These common wood pigeon species are moderately forest dependent. They inhabit various open woodland ecosystems. They inhabit farmlands, fallow agricultural fields, parks, rural gardens, suburban gardens, pastures, boreal forests, taiga, deciduous woods, Mediterranean-type shrubland, temperate shrubland and coniferous forests. They occur in altitudes of 0 to 1600 meters.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these common wood pigeon species is mostly berries, cruciferous vegetables, green fleshy leaves, buds, flowers, seeds, shoots, seedlings, figs, acorns, pine nuts and grain. Sometimes they have been observed to feed on invertebrates like insect larvae, ants and small worms. It feeds on the ground as well as on the trees.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these common wood pigeon species varies with the range. The nest is built with sticks and twigs and lined with twigs and leaves. It is located 1.5 to 2.5 meters above the ground, on trees, ledges or thick vegetation. Normally the clutch has two eggs. The eggs hatch in about 20 days. The hatchlings are fed with the crop milk, an extremely rich, sweet fluid produced in the adult birds' crops.

Migration and movement patterns

These common wood pigeon species are partially migratory birds. The north and eastern European populations as well as the west Siberian populations are migratory.


They move southwards for wintering. The pigeons in the rest of the range are resident birds.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) is estimated to be around 51,000,000 to 73,000,000 individual birds. The overall population size of these species is considered to be increasing. Their generation length is 5.7 years.

The common wood pigeon does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Columba palumbus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Columbiformes
Family:Columbidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Columba
Species:C. palumbus
Binomial name:Columba palumbus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts In Birds of India

1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hedera_baltica/26823264483/
Image author: hedera.baltica | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 (as on 2016-12-15)
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/38998067@N04/4353544759/
Image author: Andy Vernon | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 2016-12-15)
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hisgett/5709991475/
Image author: Tony Hisgett | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 2016-12-15)
Current topic in Birds of India: Common wood pigeon - Columba palumbus.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.