Sunday, 7 December 2014

Day 36 - Wonderful Wood Pigeons

Woodpigeon (Columba Palumbus)
on our holidays

(Serious birders - sorry about the wood pigeon! [with apologies to Chris Packham for pinching his joke :-) ] )

I see these birds a lot and so I thought I ought to find out more about them. I see them a lot of places I go too. I also have a funny story about them which I'll save to the end. So here are the facts:

  • The wood pigeon is the UK's largest pigeon and is also the commonest, more so than the feral pigeon that are mostly found in urban areas. 
  • The woodpigeon likes woodlands, parks, fields as well as towns and cities and are regularly seen in gardens.They can be seen all year round.
  • Length 40-42 cm 
  • Wingspan 75-80cm 
    Wood Pigeon on our bird table
    with a potential blog subject
  • Weight 450-550g
  • They are easily recognisable due to their distinct colouring - mostly grey with a white neck patch and wing patches, a pale pink chest and green/purple patch on its neck. 
  • They also have a distinctive sound - a cooing call of five notes and can be remembered by the phrase "a Proud wood pige-on, a Proud wood pige-on". 
  • It produces a loud clapping clatter of wings as they take to the air. 
  • They feed on seeds, grain and crops but will eat mostly anything placed on a bird table (would be interesting to conduct an experiment on this! Check my blog regularly for any updates!) They also drink a lot of water. 
    Zachary wood pigeon
  • There are 5.3 million breeding pairs in the UK which makes them green status. 
  • Their nest is a platform made from twigs built by both partners either in a tree or even in buildings. At breeding time males can be seen displaying by flying upwards, the claps his wings and glides back down with his wings spread out. 
  • Their eggs are smooth glossy. They generally lay three clutches a year, with two eggs usually in each. The mother feeds her babies with a milk-like substance.

So, my funny story. A few years ago we found a newborn baby bird on the ground under the conifer tree in our front garden. He had fallen out of a nest and couldn't get back in. We don't know if his mother would have been able to do anything to save him but we were worried he'd get eaten by a cat so we took him in. We rang our local wildlife sanctuary who told us to bring him down. Here are some photos - one when he was found and the other when he was fully grown and about to be set free!
Zachary Woodpigeon grown
and waiting to go free

We called him Zachary Woodpigeon and that's what started our fundraising activities for the sanctuary. What was funny was that we'd never seen a baby woodpigeon before and when we tried to describe him to the lady at the sanctuary over the phone, saying he was large and grey and yellow with a big hooked beak, she wasn't sure what it was by our description and by the time we'd got to Thirsk we had convinced ourselves he was a baby bird of prey! She was intrigued - and then when she eventually saw him she said "oh - it's a woodpigeon!" -  poor little fella! Anyway she raised him till he was fully grown and then set him free.

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