This was taken at Bridlington recently and I am wondering whether it is a Rock Dove or a feral Pigeon. Can anyone please advise?
Tricky one. They are the same species (all domestic pigeons in their many shapes, sizes and patterns are descended from Rock Doves and therefore all feral pigeons are too). Pretty much all wild Rock Dove colonies will have absorbed a few ferals over the years, and in urban areas the colonies are likely to be 100% feral. So, determining that any individual bird in Britain is a pure Rock Dove with no domestics/ferals in its ancestry is near on impossible, instead we tend to go on how 'pure' the colony as a whole appears to be.
This particular bird has the typical 'wild-type' Rock Dove plumage pattern (it would also need to show a white rump, but we can't see that in this photo), but plenty of domestics and ferals have the same pattern. It also has quite a prominent cere (the white lumpy bit at the bill base), a trait that points towards some domestic ancestry.
The 'purest' Rock Doves in Britain are probably those on the coast of north-west Scotland, but some birders think those around Bempton Cliffs are fairly close to pure.
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In reply to aiki:
Thanks Aiki, that's really interesting. As you'd expect most of the birds around Bridlington Harbour are obvious ferals but this one stood out from the crowd.
It's also interesting that you mention Bempton as of course that is only five miles up the coast from Brid. I took this one at Bempton itself a couple of years ago and this one does show the white rump you mention.
In reply to doggie:
Yes, like doggie says that one's a racing pigeon, mid-race! You can't actually see its rump in this shot, the white bit is a couple of primary (flight) feathers.
There is a colony of "almost" Rock Doves just up the road from where the photo was taken bu it is doubtful if there are any 100% Rocks among them.As a bit of a lister I would not count this bird but that is just personal.
Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can
In reply to Seaman:
Ooops, thanks everyone - I'd noticed the ring of course but I didn't associate it with racing!
In partial defence this was taken before I began birding in earnest - although that doesn't excuse me from not realising my mistake now. Fifty lines before the footy starts I think!
Ah, sorry doggie! You can see there are two rings on the right leg. The lower one is the standard closed ring, put on when the bird is a chick, that bears its and its owner's identifying details (except in this case it's covered with mud). The upper one is a blank rubber ring that's put on prior to a race, and taken off and put in some kind of timer device when the bird arrives back home (if it gets home!)
Isn't it great what you can learn on here? A really interesting answer to a pretty mundane question about a pigeon at the seaside! Thank you all so much.
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