Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bird of the week - Stock dove

The stock dove is a commonly overlooked pigeon.  This one was pretending to be a sparrowhawk by standing on my sparrowhawk perch but none of the smaller birds was fooled.

Stock doves aren't often found in gardens, preferring open countryside.  Despite living in the city I am in a fairly rural setting so I do get them in mine.

The stock dove is smaller and neater than a woodpigeon and the two often go around together, as below.  There is usually a gang of them under my bird feeders.

This one didn't fancy the food on the floor and flew up to get its own - something I haven't seen a woodpigeon manage.

Stock doves are widespread in England with fewer in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Numbers increased the 60s and 70s and are now stable.

The stock dove gets its name from an old English word for stump as it typically nests in holes in old tree stumps.  The stock dove is Columba oenas, the first being Latin for pigeon and the second Greek for - pigeon.  Thomas Bewick knew it as the wild pigeon (as opposed to domesticated pigeons - which are descended from the rock dove, Columba livia). Below is his engraving for A History of British Birds (1797).  However, this looks to me much more like a rock dove because it has large and prominent wing bars (compare with the photos above and paintings below).  Bewick includes only three pigeons in his book - the ring dove (woodpigeon), the wild pigeon (stock dove) and the turtle dove.  I wonder if the stock dove and rock dove had not been recognised as separate species in his time.  

This is Archibald Thorburn's painting of a wood pigeon, a stock dove, a turtle dove and a rock pigeon.

This is Thorburn's stock dove and turtle dove.

You can watch a short BTO video on identifying pigeons here.  You can listen to recordings of stock doves here.  And listen to Kate Humble's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day here.  These last two pictures are from Big Waters yesterday.

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