Saturday, 25 April 2015

Bird of the week - Stock dove

The stock dove is another pigeon with a puzzling scientific name - Columba oenas.  Columba is Latin for pigeon and oinas is Greek for pigeon so there was perhaps a certain lack of imagination.  "Stock" in the common name derives from an old word for stump or tree and they do nest in holes in trees.

Stock doves are fairly common birds but probably often overlooked because of their superficial similarity to feral pigeons (which are descended from rock doves).  They are fixtures in my garden and in recent weeks have been here half dozen at a time.  They are very fond of nyger seed and are usually found under the nyger seed feeder.  Males and females are similar in appearance (see here for a comparison) but easy to tell apart at present as the males are chasing the females.

The overall English population has been fairly stable in recent years after recovering from poisoning by insecticides used in the 50s and 60s.
The Bird Atlas shows that the North East of England is one of the regions showing a strong recent increase in the population (blue dots on this map).

You can watch a BTO video on identification here and listen to Kate Humble's BBC Tweet of the Day here.

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