A peaceful dove in the garden

One regular visitor to our garden is the “Stock Dove” whose scientific name is columba oenas. This bird is a kind of pigeon, but a very unusual one for a city.

Normally, Stock Doves live out in the countryside and may congregate in their hundreds to feed in fields or on stubble which has been recently harvested. They also like to live in the parkland which surrounds large country houses. In England there are some 260,000 breeding pairs of Stock Doves but they are certainly an unexpected bird in a city suburb full of traditional 1930s houses like our own. Apparently, there has been an isolated colony of Stock Doves in suburban Sherwood for at least the last seventy years. They might even date back to the period before the houses were ever built:

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First of all, let’s eliminate the Wood Pigeon with the prominent white mark on its neck. This bird is a fantastic flier. It is the Lockheed Hercules of the bird world:

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It can easily manage sixty miles an hour or more, and it can easily do vertical take-offs, but its facial expression is permanently that of a slightly apprehensive, brainless, gormless idiot:

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Stock Doves are not feral pigeons either. Stock Doves have dark eyes, whereas the feral pigeon’s eyes are often red. Feral pigeons frequently have diseased feet. A group of feral pigeons will never have any real uniformity of plumage. Any dark marks they may have on their wings will be a lot longer and more extensive than the markings on the wings of a Stock Dove:

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The markings of a Stock Dove are consistent. An iridescent green patch on the neck and two dark marks on the ends of the wings. As well as dark eyes, they also have pink legs and feet:

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Like all birds, they have a nictitating membrane to protect the eye, in this case as the bird feeds with potentially harmful plant leaves to contend with:

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These are probably male and female. In birds of prey, the female is larger than the male, but otherwise, in almost every other species of bird, the female is 15% or so smaller. You would normally not notice this, but when the two are together, it can be quite obvious:

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Unlike feral pigeons, Stock Doves are quiet, almost shy birds and can be very self-effacing:

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11 Comments

Filed under History, My Garden, My House, Nottingham, Science, Wildlife and Nature

11 responses to “A peaceful dove in the garden

  1. My favourites are the collared doves.

  2. That Herc even has a similar colour scheme.

    • What a brilliant idea, particularly for aircraft from exotic countries. Brazilian fighters painted like parrots, not to mention the South Africans with rainbow camouflage!

  3. Love that description a brainless, gormless, idiot. Does that come straight from the ‘I spy’ book of ornithology?

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