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Wood Pigeon

Common Wood Pigeon Wood Pigeon Both Sexes
Grey upperparts, pinkish breast, green and white neck patch.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Columba palumbus
Length: 40-42 cm  (16")
Wing Span: 75-80 cm  (30-32")
Weight: 450-550 g  (1-1¼lb)
Breeding Pairs: 2 500 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green
Description   Voice   Feeding   Nesting   Movements   Conservation   My Garden  
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The Wood Pigeon is generally grey with a pinkish breast and green, white and purple patch on the neck. The tail has a black tip and the wings have a prominent white patch. The eye is a bright yellow. The legs and bill are pink.

Juvenile birds are browner and duller and lack the white patch on the neck. They can be confused with the smaller Stock Dove.

Wood Pigeons waddle when they walk, which adds to their general appearance of being overweight. In fact, the Wood Pigeon's feathers weigh more than its skeleton and it is Europe's largest pigeon.

In flight the bold white bar across the middle of the wing is very prominent.


Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song
  Quicktime mp3

A Wood Pigeon's song has five notes, compared to the three notes of the Collared Dove, and sounds like "ru-hoo ru ru-hoo". This is sometimes remembered as: "Take toooo coooos, Taffy".


Wood Pigeons feed on seeds, grain and crops, but will feed on almost anything that is placed on a bird table.

They also drink a lot, mainly because they do not get sufficient moisture from their food, unlike birds that eat earthworms, etc. An interesting feature about how they drink is that they use their beak like a straw, whereas other birds scoop the water up and throw their heads back to let it flow down their throats.


The nest is a platform made from twigs and built by both sexes in a tree or on a building.

At breeding time male Wood Pigeons can be seen displaying: flies upwards, claps its wings, and then glides downwards with its tail spread.

The white elliptical eggs are smooth and glossy, and about 41 mm by 30 mm in size. Both parents share the duty of incubating the eggs and feeding the nestlings.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April 3 2 17 29-35


The Wood Pigeon is resident and mostly sedentary though in the autumn and winter they fly twice-daily between roosts and feeding areas.

Scandinavian Wood Pigeons are migratory and many pass through Britain on their autumnal migration to France and Spain, some inevitably stay for the winter in Britain.


Since the 1970s the population has increased rapidly, which may be a result of the expansion of intensive arable farming and in particular oilseed rape.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

The chart shows that the number of Wood Pigeons visiting the garden peaks in the winter, which is contrary to the Garden Birdwatch results for the whole of the British Isles.

Last revision: 10 Jul 2014
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2014.
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