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May 17, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Pigeons at the Pond

The Rock Pigeon is a common bird found in cities around the world. They are plentiful in Chicago, and when I worked in the city I would see them roosting under the elevated train tracks, scavenging along the sidewalks and plazas downtown or nesting on buildings and window ledges.

Pigeons under the train tracks

Rock Pigeon

After a while they became so ubiquitous, I would forget they were there. They are common even in the suburbs and are often seen congregating in flocks under bridges and along roads.

For most of us, pigeons are an urban bird that subsists on dropped scraps of fast food, stale bread and bird seed. But every once in a while I’ll see them in a natural area.

Pigeons at the pond

Rock Pigeon

Last week I was out looking for warblers and other spring migrants. The common Rock Pigeon was not a bird I was expecting to find along the nature trail pecking in the grass by the pond. From a distance I thought the birds were Mourning Doves, but Mourning Doves are larger and have bigger heads. A closer look through the binoculars revealed a pair of Rock Pigeons.

A few cool facts

  • Pigeons can find their way home when released from a distant location. They navigate by sensing the earth’s magnetic fields and possibly using sound and smell.
  • Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that pigeons were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago.
  • Rock Pigeons carried messages for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I and II.
  • The male chooses the nest site and both male and female incubate the eggs and feed the young.

     


    Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. It is now hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

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19 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Sandra Nachlinger / May 17 2014 10:53 am

    You did a great job of capturing the beautiful pastel gradations of color on the pigeon’s neck. I’ll admit I’ve always thought of pigeons as birds that leave poop everywhere — urban birds. What a delight to discover them out in nature!
    You’ll find my Saturday Snapshots HERE.

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  2. laurelrainsnow / May 17 2014 11:12 am

    Wow, the pigeons in the first photo look surreal…there’s a glow about them. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

    Like

  3. Arti / May 17 2014 11:17 am

    How interesting. Thanks for all the tidbits about the ‘common’ Pigeon. Coincidentally, this parallels my Sat. Snapshot post on the ‘ordinary’ seagull. 😉

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  4. Melinda / May 17 2014 12:46 pm

    Pigeons get a bad rap! They are considered pests by so many, but they are actually quite pretty!

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  5. Ginny / May 17 2014 1:43 pm

    Love the really close up shot. Pigeons are frequent visitors to my garden.

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  6. Allison / May 17 2014 6:19 pm

    We had a pigeon family once in our rafters. Every now and then, I’d hear odd banging about the house and think someone was breaking in. It was only the pigeons. 🙂

    One of our nearby trails also has a lot of pigeons. I enjoy hearing them coo and seeing them fly.

    Thanks for the tidbits about pigeons. After I posted my snapshot on squirrels, I thought that I could have made it more informative by sharing some facts about them. Another time!

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  7. irene / May 17 2014 8:35 pm

    very cool facts, I have a new respect for pigeons, after reading Wringer, Gerry Spinelli

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  8. Louise / May 18 2014 7:42 am

    It’s a shame pigeons are so common really- they’re a perfect example of familiarity breeds contempt. I know they’re viewed as rats with wings by many people. The colours are so pretty if you really look at the birds.

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    • Leslie / May 19 2014 12:10 pm

      Like the Canada Goose, it’s the mess that people don’t like.

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  9. Vicki / May 18 2014 12:14 pm

    I’ve always thought pigeons were neat with their pastel colors on their neck and the fact that they were used as carriers for messages. I think it’s a shame most people don’t like them.

    Your photos are proof of how beautiful they are.

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  10. Sue / May 19 2014 8:41 am

    And they make great food for Peregrine falcons! Pigeons are probably the reason the Peregrine conservation succeeded in urban areas. Thank you, Rock Doves!

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    • Leslie / May 19 2014 12:08 pm

      True, and they are plentiful, so no worries there. I watched a webcam of an urban Red-tailed Hawk nest a few years ago and almost every meal was a pigeon. The youngsters were well fed!

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  11. susanmillerlindquist / May 20 2014 8:31 am

    I have never actually seen a nest of pigeons. It just seems that they are strolling the ground, pecking at crumbs and grit … where do they hide their nests?

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    • Leslie / May 20 2014 11:57 am

      Under bridges, elevated train tracks, window ledges on older buildings in the city.

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  12. stacybuckeye / May 22 2014 9:21 pm

    We don’t get pigeons here. Is it our region or because we’re in the burbs?
    We have lots of big black birds that are mean and bullies!

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    • Leslie / May 23 2014 1:42 am

      If you are in the suburbs you may not see them very often, they prefer the cities.

      Mean big black birds? Sounds like Grackles or Crows. Or Red-wing Blackbirds – they can be really nasty when they have a nest nearby. I’ve been dive-bombed by them more than a few times.

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      • stacybuckeye / May 23 2014 8:21 am

        Thye don’t dive bomb me but I saw one take a little baby bird out of the nest on the side of our house and fly away, with a noisy flock giving chase. I was was traumatized!

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      • stacybuckeye / May 23 2014 8:22 am

        I’m guessing they are crows.

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      • Leslie / May 23 2014 10:00 am

        Yup, that’s crow behavior. I saw that happen in my own yard last year. And then the crow ate the nestling on a nearby branch. They steal eggs too. Traumatic, yes, but it’s nature.

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