Stock Dove

Columba oenas

32-34cm

Appearance

Generally more slender than the Woodpigeon. Sexes are similar; the upperparts are blue-grey, underparts are pale grey, the rump is pale and the breast is tinged dark pinkish. The neck has a greenish iridescence. When flying, the wings have a wide, dark trailing edge, and two bars near to the body. The wing is otherwise grey from beneath. Juveniles resemble adults but the wing bars are less distinct and they have not yet acquired the the iridescent section on the neck.

Habitat

When in the region, the Stock Dove prefers lowland areas of England and Wales, particularly woody parkland, farmland, and forests. Cliffs, old buildings and work sites are also common habitats, and it regularly visits agricultural land to feed.

Character

The Stock Dove looks quite small and robust when flying; its wingbeat are quite fluttery, except in display when it glides in wide curves, its wings held in a 'V' shape. When breeding, pairs may nest and incubate close to other pairs, but also in solitude. May socialise in flocks of other species, namely the Woodpigeon, and may feed in small flocks of other Stock Doves.

Food

Diet is predominately plant material including seeds, wheat, barley, rape, goosefoot, dock and buttercup.

Breeding

Holes in trees, nest boxes, buildings and cliffs are all common places for this bird to nest, and it often returns to the same nest site throughout its life. A clutch most likely has 2 eggs, and 2 or 3 clutches may be laid each year. Eggs are incubated by both adults for 16-18 days, and both parents tend to the young, feeding them on crop milk. Hatchlings may be different ages if eggs were incubated at different times. Young can fly after about 20-30 days and they're soon independent.

Population

Majority of breeding birds in the region are resident; they usually stay fairly close to breeding territories. Approximately 260 000 pairs breed in the UK and between 2500 and 10 000 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

Can be quite timid, particularly during the breeding season, and often their song is the first sign of a bird's presence. Arable fields are good places to search, particularly where sections of weed flourish, as the Stock Dove finds many components of its diet in these areas.

Voice

During breeding, has a gentle, low-pitched 'ooo-u-wook, ooo-woo' call.
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