Rock DoveColumba livia Gmelin
Status Introduced, common resident. Breeds. Brought over from Europe as a domestic bird, it is now sedentary and common to abundant about cities, towns and farm buildings when tolerated.
Remarks Details of the domestic pigeon's importation are unrecorded, but the present population is believed to have sprung from birds that escaped or were liberated from captivity. Although living in a semiwild state for over 100 years, it still clings to areas close to habitation, never having become wholly independent of man. It lays but two white eggs and breeds most of the year. John Doyle saw one carrying nesting materials to a building on the waterfront in Halifax on 19 February 1969, and Mark Elderkin saw one carrying a twig in its bill to a nest under construction in one of the public school buildings in Wolfville on 20 October 1970. These observations suggest a breeding season covering at least eight months. Several instances have been reported of these birds having chosen nesting sites in trees. Small twigs are used in nest construction and I have noted the bird carries only one at a time.
Probably few persons realize that the various fancy forms of pigeons, such as the pouter and the carrier, are all descendants of a single species, the Rock Dove. The changed forms have been produced by artificial selection. That all are descendants of a single species is proven by the fact that when hybrid offspring of the diverse races are bred together, the result are Rock Doves typical in form and plumage (Townsend 1915).
Three banded birds (one with a message container) and four unbanded ones have reached Sable Island (McLaren 1981a), suggesting that "domestic" birds are prone to wandering.
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Photo courtesy of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center