Visiting a lady at her garden last week, she told me about an unusual pigeon that had been coming in to take advantage of the moistened dog food biscuits that she puts out and which attract many birds throughout the year. As it happened, the bird turned up while I was there - it even turned around to show me all its plumage, so I took some pictures. This handsome bird is a feral pigeon (Columba livia), showing partial albinism or leucism.
I wonder where this bird came from? There are pigeons in the town centre, but this one was a distance from there. It was suggested that it might have been a racing pigeon that had become lost, but it has no rings on its legs. Maybe it had escaped from an aviary?
Feral pigeons, also known as domestic or town pigeons, are descended from Rock Doves, though the true Rock Dove is only found on rocky cliffs in the Scottish Highlands. The two birds are quite similar and have some of the same markings, such as the iridescent green and purple plumage around the neck, but feral pigeons have far more variable markings. You can see it in this picture.
The world has no shortage of pigeons and their conservation status is listed as of ‘least concern’; indeed they are present in such numbers in some cities that they are regarded as a pest, feeding them is banned and considerable efforts are made to control breeding success. Wherever this one blew in from, if it finds a plentiful food supply it may well stay. It is an attractive bird and, as long as it doesn’t attract hoards of other feral pigeons, it would be interesting to see it again.