Rock dove

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The rock dove (Columba livia) belongs to the family of doves and pigeons, Columbidae. These dove species are distributed in Europe, North Africa, India, and western Asia. They have become established in cities around the world. They have been domesticated and escaped domesticated birds have established feral populations around the world.

Taxonomy of Rock dove

  • Scientific Name: Columba livia
  • Common Name: Rock dove
  • French: Pigeon biset; German: Felsentaube; Spanish: Paloma bravĂ­a;
  • Other names: rock pigeon; blue rock dove;
  • Family: Columbidae › Columbiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Gmelin, 1789
The nine recognized subspecies of rock dove are: C. l. intermedia Strickland, 1844, C. l. livia J. F. Gmelin, 1789, C. l. neglecta A. O. Hume, 1873, C. l. gymnocycla G. R. Gray, 1856, C. l. gaddi Zarudny & Loudon, 1906, C. l. targia Geyr von Schweppenburg, 1916, C. l. palaestinae Zedlitz, 1912, C. l. dakhlae R. Meinertzhagen, 1928 and C. l. schimperi Bonaparte, 1854. Columba livia is closely related to C. rupestris (hill dove) and C. leuconota (snow dove).


The rock dove is a medium sized bird, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 180 to 350 grams. The wingspan is 60 to 70 cm. The overall color is bluish gray. The wings are paler and have two black bars. The neck and chest have glossy greenish, and reddish-purple iridescence. Female dove tend to show less iridescence than the male. The iris is reddish orange with bluish gray bare skin around the eye. The cere is off-white and there is creamy white massive operculum. The feet are pinkish red.
Indian birds - Rock dove - Columba livia
Birds of India - Rock dove - Columba livia
Birds of India - Rock dove - Columba livia
Indian birds - Rock dove - Columba livia
Indian birds - Rock dove - Columba livia
Birds of India - Rock dove - Columba livia


The rock dove subspecies C. l. intermedia is distributed in India and Sri Lanka. The subspecies C. l. neglecta is distributed in west Asia, northwest India, Tien Shan mountain and Tibet in China and eastern Himalayas in India. The subspecies C. l. gaddi is distributed in west and southwest Asia. The subspecies C. l. palaestinae is distributed in Palestine and Arabia. The subspecies C. l. schimperi is distributed in Egyypt. The subspecies C. l. dakhlae is distributed in Egypt. The subspecies C. l. targia is distributed in north Africa. The subspecies C. l. gymnocycla is distributed in northwest Africa. The subspecies C. l. livia is distributed in Europe, north Africa and west Asia.

Ecosystem and habitat

The ecosystem includes open and semi-open environments. These dove species prefer high cliff faces along the coast for roosting. They are highly adaptive and in urban areas may roost on ledges in high rise buildings.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these dove species mostly consists of seeds and grains. In urban and suburban areas they may feed on kitchen waste and leftovers.

Reproduction and breeding

These dove species reproduce all year around. In India the peak season is February. There may be two or three clutches in a year and usually two eggs are laid. The male dove constructs the nest on coastal cliff faces and rocks. The nest is flimsy, made of sticks and dry leaves. Both the parents incubate the eggs and the incubation period may last up to 20 days. The hatchlings are fed with regurgitated food.

Movement and migration patterns

The rock dove species are resident birds. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population of these rock dove species is estimated to number 260,000,000 individual birds. The overall population trend is considered to be on the decline. It has extremely large range and hence considered not "Vulnerable" to extinction.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these rock dove species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Columba livia
Species:C. livia
Binomial name:Columba livia
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Europe, north Africa, central and western Asia;
Diet and feeding habits:seeds, grains and nuts;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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