Photo Credit: Terry Spivey, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Columbia livia
 
STATUS: Exotic. Breeder. Common in all seasons and regions. 
 
DESCRIPTION: Male and female rock doves are similar in appearance. They are usually blue-gray with a white underside. They typically have two broad black stripes along their wings and a dark band along their tail. Their head, neck, upper breast, and bill are, most often, a dark gray color. Green and purple iridescent colors often are present on the neck region. Plumage can vary from gray to white, tan, and black. Rock Doves are approximately 11in. long and may be characterized as large, chunky doves having a medium length tail that is squared off at the tip. 
 
DISTRIBUTION: Rock doves are not migratory birds. They can be found throughout the world year round.  
 
HABITAT: Found in cities and on farms, bridges, and cliffs.
 
FOOD HABITS: Rock Doves primarily feed on seeds found on open ground. Seeds fed upon include those produced by either wild or agricultural plants, and are often associated with agricultural fields, grain silos, feed barns, and bird feeders. Insects and plant matter are a part of the dove’s diet as well. As do all dove species, nestlings rock doves feed on “crop milk” provided by their parents. 
 
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Breeding occurs throughout the year, worldwide, for both feral and wild populations. Feral doves occur in very high numbers throughout the world. Wild populations have no special status. Nesting sites for wild populations of rock doves are often in crevices along rocky seaside cliffs close to agricultural areas or open shrubby vegetation. Feral populations of rock doves commonly occur in urban areas where they nest on building ledges and roof tops. Urban populations often are seen as a nuisances because of their constant defecation around their roosting and nesting sites. Rock dove nests are made of small twigs. They are monogamous birds that pair for life. A mated pair can produce up to six clutches of eggs per year if food is readily available. Each clutch consists of two eggs. The eggs are small and are solid white. Incubation lasts for 16-19 days. Males usually guard the nest during incubation, but sometimes assist the female with incubation. Fledging occurs when the young are approximately thirty days old. 
Their natural instinct is to remain near their birth site. This trait causes them to be very determined when it comes to their roosting sites. It is very difficult to deter them from returning day after day to the same site, making dispersion of nuisance populations extremely difficult. Rock doves’ daily routine involves roosting at night and feeding in the morning. 
 
Rock dove populations are thriving worldwide. While some areas tend to have higher populations than others, all populations are stable. Feral populations are at even higher levels than are wild populations primarily because of higher food availability in urban settings compared to that in the rock doves’ natural habitat. 
 
REFERENCES: 
 
Roof, J. 2001. "Columba livia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Columba_livia.html.