Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #41 Rock Dove

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week or so I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s  backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#41 Rock Dove

(Columba livia)

This is one of the many introduced bird species in Australia. Also known as the feral pigeon it is a descended from species found in Europe and Asia. There are a variety of plumage variations that have resulted from selected breeding over the years with the most common being a mix of grey, black, white and brown with  purple and green sheens. This bird is relatively unmistakable from other birds.

This is a medium sized bird around the size of the Magpie Lark. it is closely related to human populations and can be found in large numbers within cities and larger towns were they can form large flocks. They are a pest species in many towns were they are fed by the human population which result in their being habituated to parks and reserves were people may feed them. Their roosting habits and numbers can result in significant impacts to public infrastructure as a result of their droppings which can be damaging to these assets and pose a public health risk.

Breeding can occur throughout the year with the peak times being between July and February. Nesting occurs on ledges which in the wild would be cliff faces however within cities the nest may be constructed on building facades which may become defaced by their droppings and become odorous. the female.

Although naturally an agricultural bird in their native range they have adapted to the urban environment were they may be found in large numbers. They are primarily seed eaters however with these urban environments they will sample scraps left by human activities.  They can often be found pecking at the ground searching for scraps of food.

Conservation Status in Victoria: “Introduced”

Habitat Ecology 2021

References:

Birds in Backyards: https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Columba-livia

Australian Museum: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/feral-pigeon/