Bird Database

Rock Pigeon

(Columba livia)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







None identified

Conservation Actions

None identifified

Rock Pigeon

(Columba livia)

Appearing in a variety of colors, the Rock Pigeon is a fixture of urban and agricultural areas throughout New Hampshire. North American birds are descended from a wild species first domesticated in Europe millennia ago and have been on this continent for almost as long as people of European descent. The first recorded instance of the species in North America is from Nova Scotia in 1606, with additional introductions in what was to become the United States in subsequent decades. Pigeons eventually spread throughout temperate and much of tropical North America, although they are usually limited to areas close to human settlement.

Truly wild pigeons typically build their nests on cliffs (hence the name), but in much of the world have switched to man-made structures such as bridges and under the eaves of buildings. Their nest is a loose and sloppy affair on which they lay two eggs, which hatch in 18-19 days. Pigeons and doves are unique among North American birds in that the adults feed their young with “crop milk,” a protein- and fat-rich secretion that resembles cottage cheese. This is the only source of sustenance for the squabs for their first few days of life, after which the adult pigeons gradually increase the proportion of seeds fed to the chicks.

For a species so well-adapted to human landscapes, it’s surprising that pigeon populations are declining over much of eastern North America. The reasons for this are unclear, but might include loss of agricultural land, improved sanitation, or pigeon control in urban areas. This decline is not apparent in New Hampshire, which might be because we have lower overall numbers compared to neighboring states. In their native range in Eurasia, wild rock Pigeons are at risk of interbreeding with domestically derived stock, with unknown implications for their long-term occupation of traditional habitats.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Rock Pigeon
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count