Rock Dove Columba livia Gmelin, 1789

Order: Columbiformes Family: Columbidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Recommended birdwatching tours to watch this bird

Half-day birdwatching

Rock Dove Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

A stocky small pigeon well known to its familiarity with feral populations.

Colour Pattern

The pure Rock Dove’s plumage is light grey on its back, dark grey on its head and underparts, and has two long black wing-bars. In flight, a white rump patch can be seen as can a black band across the tail. Its feet are reddish, as are its eyes. The black bill has a small patch of white skin above the upper mandible. The bird’s throat has shiny plumage that varies from green to violet.


Rock Dove has interbred with domestic pigeons that have escaped from captivity and now formed populations of feral and town pigeons.


Rock Dove or Feral Pigeon is widespread throughout the world and is found on all islands of Madeira archipelago except for the Selvagens.
The 'pure' Rock Doves are generally found on sparsely vegetated rocky slopes next to the sea.

Distinction from similar species

It is very difficult to be certain that it is a pure Rock Dove due to the interbreeding with domestic/feral pigeons though normally the feral pigeons a lot of different and the birds that look like pure Rock Doves really show all the characteristics described above.

Columba livia Biometrics

Wingspan: 63 - 70 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Total length: 31 - 34 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Weight: 250 - 350 g (Hume, 2002)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: It nests in cavities in cliffs where it builds a rudimentary nest that is loose and untidy. During the year there can be 3 clutches with two eggs each. Both parent birds incubate the eggs and care for the chicks.
Diet: It looks for seeds and small invertebrates


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Very Common breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Portuguese: Pombo da Rocha
German: Felsentaube
Dutch: Rotsduif
Swedish: Klippduva
Danish: Klippedue
Finish: Kalliokyyhky
Norwegian: Klippedue
Spanish: Paloma Bravía
French: Pigeon biset
Italian: Piccione selvatico
Polish: Gołąb miejski
Slovak: holub divý
Czech: Holub skalní
English synonyms: Feral Dove, Feral Pigeon, Common Pigeon

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