The rock dove has long become our familiar, feathered neighbors, which can be found everywhere, even in the territories of large cities. The pigeon itself can look at guests by flying onto the balcony or sitting on the windowsill. Pigeon cooing is familiar to almost everyone, but not everyone knows about the habits and bird character. Let's try to understand these issues, simultaneously studying the places of settlement of pigeons, their eating habits, breeding characteristics and other life nuances.
Origin of the species and description
The gray dove is also called the cesar, this feathered one belongs to the pigeon family and the dove-like order. Archaeological excavations have made it possible to find out that, judging by the fossil remains, the pigeon species formed about forty or fifty million years ago, it was the end of the Eocene or the beginning of the Oligocene. The pigeon homeland is considered to be North Africa, Southern Europe and Southwest Asia. Even in ancient times, people tamed these birds.
Video: Rock dove
When moving to another place of residence, a person carried with him all the acquired belongings, taking pigeons with him, so the birds were widely settled throughout our planet and became familiar to both villagers and townspeople. There are many legends and traditions associated with pigeons, they are considered to be peacemakers, personifying spiritual purity.
Interesting fact: Babylon was considered the city of pigeons. There is a legend according to which Queen Semiramis turned into a dove in order to soar into the sky.
There are two forms of pigeons: long tamed, these birds coexist with humans. Without these birds, it is impossible to imagine city streets, crowded boulevards, squares, parks and ordinary courtyards;
Outwardly, these forms of pigeons are no different, but the habits have their own characteristics. It is unusual for wild pigeons to sit on tree branches, only synanthropic birds can do this, wild pigeons bravely step on a rocky and earthy surface. Wild sizari are faster than urban ones, they can reach speeds of up to 180 kilometers per hour, which is beyond the power of birds adjacent to people. Pigeons living in different territories and even continents do not differ in appearance, they look absolutely identical, even on the hot African mainland, even in our country. Next, we describe their characteristic external features.
Appearance and features
The pigeon body is quite large and slightly elongated, its length varies from 37 to 40 cm. It looks very slender, but its subcutaneous fat layer is rather big.
Interesting fact: The mass of birds belonging to wild pigeon breed, ranges from 240 to 400 grams, urban specimens are often obese, therefore somewhat heavier.
The pigeon head is miniature, the beak is about 2.5 cm long, it is slightly rounded at the end and blunt. The color scheme of the beak is usually black, but a white cere is clearly visible at the base. The ear shells of birds under the plumage are practically invisible, but they capture such purity that the human ear does not perceive. The bird's neck is not long with a contrast marked (with the help of feather color) goiter. It is in this area that the plumage shimmers with purple tones, smoothly turning into bright wine shades.
The pigeon tail is rounded at the end, its length is 13 or 14 cm, a black border is noticeable in the plumage. The bird's wings are quite long, reaching from 65 to 72 cm in span, their base is quite wide, and the ends are sharp. The flight feathers are lined with thin black stripes. Looking at the wings, one feels the power of a pigeon, birds are able to fly at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour, and wild pigeons are generally lightning fast, they can accelerate up to 170.
Interesting fact: Average the distance that sizar is able to overcome in a day is more than 800 kilometers.
Bird eyes have different colors of irises, they can be:
- golden (most common);
Pigeons have excellent, three-dimensional vision, all shades are carefully distinguished by birds, they even capture ultraviolet light. Pigeon movements when walking may seem strange, because a sizar moving on the ground has to concentrate his eyesight all the time. Bird's legs are short, their colors can be represented by various variations from pink to black, in some bird species they have plumage. The color of pigeons should be discussed separately. Its most standard version is grayish blue. It is worth noting that wild pigeons are slightly lighter than their synanthropic counterparts. Within the city limits, you can now see birds of various shades that differ from the standard color.
Regarding color, pigeons are:
- snow-white (solid and with spots of other colors);
- light red with a small amount of white feathers;
- dark brown (coffee-colored);
- completely black.
Interesting fact: Among urban pigeons, there are more than a quarter of a hundred different colors.
In the area of the neck, head and breast, the color differs from the main background of the plumage. Here it shimmers with yellowish, pinkish and green-violet tones with a metallic sheen. In the region of the goiter, the color may also be burgundy. In females, the shine on the chest is not as noticeable as in males. Otherwise, they are identical, only the feathered cavalier is slightly larger than the lady. Young growth looks more faded, waiting for the first molt.
Where does the rock dove live?
Sisari conquered all continents, you will not meet them only in Antarctica. These birds settled most widely on the territories of two continents: in Eurasia, occupying its central and southern regions, and on the hot African continent. As for Eurasia, here pigeons have chosen the Altai Mountains, eastern India, the Tien Shan mountain ranges, territories stretching from the Yenisei basin to the Atlantic Ocean. Also, pigeons are considered permanent residents of the Crimean Peninsula and the Caucasus. In distant Africa, pigeons settled in the coastal territories of Darfur and the Gulf of Aden, settled in separate Senegalese areas. Small pigeon populations inhabited Sri Lanka, Great Britain, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean and the Faroe Islands.
Wild sizars like mountainous terrain, they can be seen at altitudes from 2.5 to 3 km. They also live near grassy plains, where there are flowing reservoirs nearby. These pigeons arrange their nesting places in rocky crevices, ravines and in other secluded places away from people. Pigeons avoid extensive dense forests. Places where the relief is monotonous and too open are also not very suitable for them, because birds need high stone buildings or rocks.
The synanthropic pigeon is attracted to territories where there are many high-rise buildings; they also nest in places of various industrial complexes that may be located away from cities. In the city, these birds can live everywhere: in large garden and park areas, on the roofs of houses, in crowded squares, in destroyed or unfinished buildings. In rural areas, flocks of pigeons can be seen at the lek, where they store and grind grain, but in the villages, pigeons are less common. City sizari live where it is more convenient and safer for them to create their nests, and in cold, harsh, winter times they stay closer to human dwellings and often cluster near garbage dumps.
Interesting fact: On some continents rock pigeons were introduced artificially. This happened in Nova Scotia, where the French brought several birds with them back in 1606.
Now you know where the bird lives. Let's see what the Rock Pigeon eats?
What does the Rock Pigeon eat?
You can called omnivorous and unpretentious in the choice of food.
Their habitual bird diet consists of:
- all kinds of grains;
- plant seeds;
- wild apples;
- other tree fruits;
- various insects.
Where food is plentiful, pigeons feed in whole flocks, numbering from ten to a hundred birds. Extensive concentrations of pigeons are observed in the fields during harvesting, where winged pick up grains and weed seeds directly from the ground.
An interesting fact: Pigeons are very heavy, and have a certain paw structure that does not allow birds to peck grains from ears, so birds do not pose a threat to cultivated land, on the contrary, they peck a lot of seeds of various weeds.
Sisari are very voracious, at a time they can eat about forty grams of seeds, despite the fact that their daily food intake is sixty grams. This happens when there is a lot of food and the pigeon is in a hurry to eat for future use. In times of famine, birds show ingenuity and become very enterprising, because what you can’t do in order to survive. Birds begin to eat food unusual for them: sprouted oats, frozen berries. To improve digestion, Sisari swallow small stones, shells and sand. You can’t call pigeons squeamish and picky, in difficult times they do not shun carrion, gutting city urns and garbage dumps, pecking at dog droppings.
Interesting fact: Pigeons have 37 taste buds, people have them there are 10 thousand.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Cesar can be called sedentary birds, active during the day. In search of food, birds fly to various places until the sun sets. But in cities, their activity can continue after sunset, when it is not yet completely dark. At night, pigeons rest, but before going to bed they try to drink water. The females sleep in the nest, and the males are somewhere nearby, because they guard their dove and offspring. Puffed up and hiding their heads under their wings, the pigeons fall into a sleep, which is very sensitive, but lasts until dawn.
Sisari prefer walking on the surface of the earth, and their flights account for only about thirty percent of the daytime. Wild birds are very active in this regard, moving away to a distance of 50 km from the nesting place in order to find food, more often this happens in winter, when things are tight with food. In general, feathered savages live much harder, because they cannot hide in warm attics, people do not feed them.
Pigeons have long become constant human companions, sometimes it is difficult to imagine city streets without these long-familiar and familiar feathered inhabitants. Pigeons and humans interact in various areas, which can be used to judge bird customs, habits and abilities. Excellent orientation in space made skillful and reliable postmen from pigeons in ancient times. The pigeon is smart and has a good memory, because. having flown thousands of kilometers, he always knows the way back home.
Pigeons are trainable, we have all seen these birds performing in the circus arena. But the fact that they are successfully used in search operations, few know. Birds have been trained to make loud calls when a yellow vest is found and to hover over the spot where the missing one was found. Sisari predict natural disasters, because they are very sensitive to any changes in atmospheric pressure and low-frequency sounds that are not subject to human hearing.
Interesting fact: Ornithologists believe that pigeon orientation in space occurs relative to the sun light and magnetic fields. It has been experimentally proven that within the city limits, birds are guided by buildings built by people.
Almost everyone has heard cooing doves, the sounds they make are similar to throat rumbling. With the help of these chords, gentlemen lure partners and can drive away ill-wishers. Most often, cooing is inherent in males. Surprisingly, it is completely different and is heard on various occasions, scientists have identified five types of pigeon rumble.
So, bird cooing happens:
- in love;
- stern (issued during the meal).
In addition to voice calls, pigeons communicate with each other by flapping their wings.
Social structure and reproduction
It is not for nothing that lovers are often called doves, because these birds create a couple for life, remaining faithful and lovingly caring for each other partners. Pigeons become sexually mature already at the age of six months. Pigeons living in areas with a warm climate breed year-round, and northern birds only in the warm season. The cavalier takes care of the dove he likes very beautifully, trying to charm her. To do this, the male coos invitingly, fluffs his tail, makes dancing movements, tries to hug the female with his wings, inflates the feathers on his neck.
The choice is always up to the partner, if she likes the gentleman, then their family union will last the entire bird life , which lasts from three to five years in natural conditions, although in captivity a pigeon can live up to 15. When a couple is created, she begins to equip herself with a nest, the male brings building materials (branches, fluff, twigs), and the expectant mother makes them cozy nest. When an opponent appears, fights between males are not uncommon.
Egg laying begins two weeks after mating. Usually there are only two of them, the eggs are small, completely white or slightly bluish in tone. The second egg is laid a couple of days after the first. The incubation process lasts from 16 to 19 days. Parents incubate offspring, replacing each other. Most often, the male is in the nest during the day, and the expectant mother sits on the eggs all night. Babies do not hatch at the same time, the difference in the appearance of chicks can be up to two days.
Immediately upon birth, you can hear the squeak of pigeons, which do not have feathers and need to be heated. Up to 25 days old, parents treat babies with milk produced in bird crops. When they reach the month, the pigeons try the grains soaked in their beaks, which they take out with their beaks from the throat of their mother or father. At the age of 45 days, the babies become stronger and covered with plumage, so they are already leaving their nesting place, going into adulthood and independent life.
Interesting fact: During one season, one pair of pigeons can reproduce from four to eight broods, but not all chicks survive. pigeon
Rock pigeons have enough enemies in natural conditions. Feathered predators pose a big threat to them. Do not mind eating pigeon meat hawks. They are most dangerous during the pigeon mating season. Black grouse and quail are happy to feast on pigeons, only one of their families is able to absorb about five pigeons per day.
Hawks threaten, first of all, savage sizars, and their synanthropic relatives are more afraid of peregrine falcons, they specially visit urban areas to taste pigeons or feed their chicks with it. The number of pigeons is also negatively affected by crows, both black and gray, which, first of all, attack chicks or weakened old birds. Dangerous for pigeons and ordinary cats who love to hunt them.
Pigeon nests are often ruined by:
Mass epidemics also destroy a lot of winged ones, because pigeons live crowded, so the infection spreads with lightning speed. A person who can purposefully poison pigeons, which have become too numerous in his territory, can also be considered a pigeon enemy, because he considers them carriers of dangerous diseases and pests of urban landscapes that suffer from pigeon droppings.
Population and species status
The area of settlement of pigeons is very extensive, these birds are familiar in many settlements. People are so used to them that they do not pay any attention, and their cooing is painfully familiar to everyone. The number of pigeons does not cause any concern among environmental organizations, although it has been noticed that there are fewer and fewer wild sizars left. Often they interbreed with urban ones.
It is pleasant to realize that nothing threatens the pigeon population, it is not going to die out at all, but, closely adjacent to humans, continues to actively breed and increase its numbers. In some regions, there is such a situation that there are a lot of pigeons, so people have to get rid of them by poisoning with pestilence. This is due to the fact that numerous pigeon droppings violate the cultural image of cities, damage buildings and other structures, and even corrode automobile coatings. Pigeons can infect humans with diseases such as bird flu, torulosis, psittacosis, so their too large number is dangerous for people.
So, it is worth noting that rock pigeons are not a vulnerable species, their number is quite large sometimes even too much. Sisari are not on any red lists, they do not experience threats regarding their existence, therefore they do not need certain protective measures, which cannot but rejoice.
Summing up, it is worth adding that the rock dove is very beautiful, noble and graceful, its iridescent plumage is very attractive and mesmerizing, not for nothing that in ancient times it was very revered and personified peace, love and boundless devotion. Caesar is next to a person, hoping for his help and support, so we also need to be kinder to pigeons and take care, especially in harsh frosty winters.