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Fact sheets

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon). Photo: R Major © Australian Museum

A flock of Rock Doves. Photo: R Major © Australian Museum

Columba livia


Australian Rock Doves (33 to 36 cm) are descended from the Rock Pigeon, found in Europe and Asia. Many plumage variants have been developed by selective breeding over the years and the most common colours of feral birds are a mixture of grey, black, white and brown, with purple and green sheens. The most common call is a moaning 'cooo-rooooo-cu-cu'. At close range, the Rock Dove cannot be mistaken for any other bird. Distant flocks may be confused with those of the slightly larger Topknot Pigeon, Lopholaimus antarcticus, or the White-headed Pigeon, C. leucomela. Dead Rock Doves washed up on beaches are often mistaken for seabirds.

Distribution and Habitat

The Rock Dove is native to Europe, Africa and Asia, where it prefers open agricultural areas. Wild birds have been largely swamped by the great numbers of feral individuals. These feral populations are closely associated with human settlement in many countries throughout the world. In Australia, the Rock Dove has not ventured far from human settlement, being found in large numbers in capital cities and larger towns, with the exception of Darwin.

Food and feeding

Although it is mainly a seed-eater, the Rock Dove will sample most scraps. In city streets and parks, birds are seen pecking at the ground in a never-ending search for food.

Rock Dove egg © Australian Museum


The Rock Dove breeds at any time of the year, but peak times are spring and summer (July to February). Nesting sites are situated along coastal cliff faces, as well as the artificial cliff faces created by apartment buildings with accessible ledges or roof spaces. Rock Doves nest in large colonies which quickly deface buildings with their droppings.


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