Wood Pigeon

Common Wood Pigeon-Columba palumbus


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Columbiformes
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genre: Columba
  • Species: Columba palumbus

Identification characters

It is a large pigeon with a body length of 38 – 45 cm and a wingspan of 68 – 77 cm. It weighs 284 – 690 g. It is larger than the domestic pigeon. It is not sexually dimorphic.

Easily identified by the large white patches on the sides of the neck and in flight by the white band of

on the wing, which contrasts with the rest of the plumage. The overall plumage is mottled grey with black wings and black rectrices. The feathers on the breast and abdomen are pinkish-purple. The bill is reddish at the base and yellow towards the tip. The iris is light yellow.

Unlike adults, juveniles do not have white spots on the sides of the neck.


The Common Wood Pigeon is found throughout most of Eurasia. For wintering they migrate to the south of the continent and around the Mediterranean Sea. The European flock is estimated at between 20 500 000 and 29 000 000 breeding pairs, representing 80% of the global population.

În România este specie de pasaj. Pleacă în octombrie-noiembrie și revine în februarie-martie. În ultimii 25 de ani, partea de sud-est a Munteniei a devenit cartier de iernare pentru populațiile din nordul Europei. Este o specie în expansiune în Dobrogea. Populația cuibăritoare din România este cuprinsă între 288 121 și 390 190 de perechi, tendința fiind crescătoare.

Living environment and biology of the species

The Common Wood Pigeon is widespread in all wooded regions, especially at the edge of oak forests. It can also be found in large city parks and other man-made areas. It is found from the lowlands to the lower forest line, at altitudes between 900 and 1 600 m, where there are isolated trees, forest patches or thinned forests bordering open areas or agricultural crops. In winter it flocks, sometimes forming mixed flocks with the Barn Pigeon, in extensive agricultural areas of the lowlands, especially in the Bărăgan.

The food is exclusively vegetable, consisting of cereal seeds, the fruit of forest species such as palms, beech and oak, as well as seeds of conifers and various legumes. It forages on the ground covered with vegetation, but unlike other pigeon species, the collared pigeon also forages in trees, from which it plucks buds, flowers, green leaves, fruit and seeds. Rarely, it also eats various insects such as butterflies, caterpillars, turtle lice and other invertebrates such as earthworms and some species of snails. They sometimes ingest soil granules and snail shells to replenish their mineral requirements.

Sexual maturity is reached after one year. The pair is monogamous during a breeding season. In migrating populations the couple may be long-lived. Males usually choose their territories as early as autumn, and in March-April they begin to mark their territories with characteristic calls and nuptial flights. Rarely, more than one nest is found on a tree. The nest is usually located in the territory chosen by a pair, preferably on coniferous, ivy or very twiggy trees. Sometimes the collared pigeon uses the nests of other bird species as a support for its own nest, with a few twigs, roots and other plant material. Males suggest nest sites, but it is the female that chooses the final nest site. The male provides the materials needed to build the nest, which he then hands over to the female. The female lays 2 white eggs. The partners take turns hatching for 15-17 days. At first the young are fed by both parents with a substance secreted by the goose, called “pigeon milk”, then with various insects and only later can they eat buds and young leaves. After about 5 weeks, the chicks become able to fly. In one year, the collared dove can lay 2-3 eggs, until September.

Threats and conservation measures

There are currently no major threats to the species, with populations in many parts of its range increasing due to its ability to exploit human habitats. However, the Common Wood Pigeon may be threatened by habitat modification, fragmentation and loss, hunting and poaching.

Recommended conservation measures include a ban on new development in habitats important to the species and the fragmentation of woodland habitats. promoting connectivity through native tree species, linking forestry work to species biology to avoid disturbance of species at critical times. Legal approval of management, conservation and restoration criteria for bird conservation in forestry and hunting plans is desirable. Hunting legislation must be respected, with enforcement controlled through cooperation between conservation organisations, hunting organisations, the gendarmerie and the Environmental Guard against poaching.

Standardised annual monitoring is recommended in order to determine population trends, monitor threats and the effectiveness of ongoing management measures, identify important areas for the conservation of the species, and promote studies on various aspects of the species’ biology, including demographic parameters.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests- Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 286-287;
  • Lars Svensson, Hakan Delin, 1988, Photographic guide to the birds of Britain and Europe, Pigeons and Doves p. 154, Chancellor Press, London
  • Svensson (text and maps), 2017, Guide to bird identification. Europe and the Mediterranean area, translation and adaptation in Romanian: Romanian Ornithological Society, Emanuel Ștefan Baltag, Sebastian Bugariu, Alida Barbu, p.214;
  • Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing House, Bucharest, p. 124;
  • https://pasaridinromania.sor.ro/ Ornitodata | https://pasaridinromania.sor.ro/ Ornitodata | Common Wood Pigeon (sor.ro) (sor.ro)
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