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Rock Pigeon

These birds are more commonly known as Rock Doves or Common Pigeons.

The introduced Rock Pigeon has proven adaptable to human activity and structures, and now occurs across the U.S. and southern Canada. One additional reason for the Rock Pigeon’s abundance is the fact that in many areas they can nest year-round, beginning a new nest just six weeks after raising a brood.

While a homing pigeon was once known to live for over 30 years, most wild pigeons live about two or three years. Rock Pigeons can harbor many avian diseases, though they don’t often die from them. Long periods of extensive snow cover can result in starvation.

Length: 12 inches
Wing span: 28 inches


Description of the Rock Pigeon


The Rock Pigeon varies widely in color, but usually contains some combination or variation of gray, black, white, or rarely brown, sometimes with iridescent green on the neck.  All forms have a white cere at the base of the bill.

Rock Pigeon

Photograph © Greg Lavaty


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles are similar to adults.


Rock Pigeons are found in cities and towns, on farms, and near bridges or grain elevators.


Rock Pigeons primarily eat seeds and waste grain.

Rock Pigeon


Rock Pigeons forage by walking on the ground, and are often seen flying rapidly in flocks.


This Old World species was introduced to North America and now occurs throughout the U.S. and southern Canada.  Its North American population is stable.

Fun Facts

The Rock Pigeon was formerly known as the Rock Dove in North America. Learn more: Dove vs Pigeon – the main differences.

Rock Pigeons can nest year-round, and during cold weather the young take longer to leave the nest.

Rock Pigeons have good homing ability if relocated and released.


The song consists of low cooing or hooting.


Similar Species

  • Band-tailed Pigeons are larger, lack the white cere, have a black-tipped yellow bill, and occur in western forests.


The nest is a platform of twigs and grass usually placed on building or bridge ledges.

Number: Usually lay 2 eggs.
Color: White.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 18-19 days, and leave the nest in another 25-32 days, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Rock Pigeon

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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