ROCK PIGEON

Columba livia

Status:  Common regular resident statewide.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM 13458, 26 May 1977 Lincoln, Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy: According to Clements et al (2016), “Rock Pigeon” conflicts with established names in Australia for species of Petrophassa, but “Feral Pigeon” is available for worldwide introduced populations. Here, however, we retain “Rock Pigeon” due to its general use in North America (AOS 2017).

North American Rock Pigeons are an amalgamation of several wild subspecies from the native range in central Asia (AOU 1957) as well as released or escaped domestic birds.

Resident:

BBS data indicate that in summer numbers are greatest in the east, declining towards the north and west; this is probably a reflection of human population distribution.

  • Breeding Phenology:
    Eggs: 7 Mar-29 May
    Breeding may occur in almost any month; Kansas data indicate breeding Feb-Sep (see Lowther and Johnston 2014).
  • High (non-CBC) counts: 660 in Salt Creek area, Lincoln, Lancaster Co 15 Feb 2016, 600 in Norfolk, Madison Co 14 Feb 2016, and 510 in North Platte, Lincoln Co 12 Feb 2011.

In winter, CBC data show the same distribution as BBS data, although CBC numbers recorded in the west, notably at Scottsbluff, are proportionately higher than that shown by the BBS data. It is possible that the large number of Rock Pigeons that nest in cliffs and escarpments in the Scottsbluff area winter in Scottsbluff. Highest CBC counts are from Lincoln, 2693 in 2014 and 1701 in 2015, Norfolk, 1208 in 2007, and Ames, 842 on 3 Jan 2007; Scottsbluff had a count high of 1046 on 19 Dec 2009. Non-CBC high winter counts include 355 at the Lincoln Co Courthouse 21 Dec 2014.

Comments:

Domesticated centuries ago in Europe, European immigrants brought this species with them to the New World (Long 1981). Those settling Nebraska apparently brought this species with them and many have become feral. Today it occurs statewide, essentially around human habitation where nesting sites and food are available. It is most common in larger towns and cities in the east where many ledge-like sites are available on the many multi-story buildings and beneath bridges. In the west, feral nesting on cliffs and in canyons is rare, but does occur on certain buttes in the northwest (Rosche 1982) and possibly the Wildcat Hills in Scotts Bluff Co (Rapp et al 1958).

Abbreviations:

BBS: Breeding Bird Survey
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum

Acknowledgement

Photograph (top) of a Rock Pigeon at Papillion, Sarpy Co 21 Nov 2008 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited:

[AOS] American Ornithological Society. 2017. Checklist of North and Middle American Birds. http://checklist.aou.org/taxa/

[AOU] American Ornithologists’ Union. 1957. The AOU Check-list of North American birds, 5th ed. Baltimore, MD: Port City Press.

Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Long, J.L. 1981. Introduced birds of the world. New York: Universe Books.

Lowther, P.E., and R.F. Johnston. 2014. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia). The Birds of North America, Number 13.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Crete, NE.

Rosche, R.C. 1982. Birds of northwestern Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota, an annotated checklist. Crawford, NE: Cottonwood Press.

Recommended Citation:

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2018.  Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) Version 1.0. In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org


Birds of Nebraska – Online