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Columba livia (pigeons)


  • Last modified
  • 27 July 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Columba livia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • pigeons
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Columba livia is native to Europe and has been introduced worldwide as a food source, or for game. These pigeons prefer to live near human habitation, such as farmland and buildings. They cause considerable dam...
  • Principal Source
  • Global Invasive Species Database  

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Columba livia (feral pigeon); group of birds, with feathers puffed out. UK. December, 2004.
TitleGroup of birds
CaptionColumba livia (feral pigeon); group of birds, with feathers puffed out. UK. December, 2004.
Copyright©Andrew Dunn/Cambridge, UK/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Columba livia (feral pigeon); group of birds, with feathers puffed out. UK. December, 2004.
Group of birds Columba livia (feral pigeon); group of birds, with feathers puffed out. UK. December, 2004.©Andrew Dunn/Cambridge, UK/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Columba livia (Gmelin, 1789)

Preferred Common Name

  • pigeons

International Common Names

  • English: carrier pigeon; common pigeon; domestic dove; domestic pigeon; dove, feral rock; feral pigeon; feral rock dove; feral rock pigeon; homing pigeon; kolombo; pigeon; pigeon, domestic; rock dove; rock dove pigeon; rock dove, feral; rock pigeon
  • Spanish: paloma; paloma bravia; paloma casera; paloma común; paloma de castilla; paloma doméstica
  • French: pigeon biset; pigeon biset domestique; pigeon de ville; pigeon domestique
  • Russian: sizy Golub; sizyj golubnull
  • Chinese: yuan ge
  • Portuguese: pombo da rocha; pombo o pombo-doméstico; pombo-das-rochas; pombo-doméstico

Local Common Names

  • Albania: pëllumbi i egër i shkëmbit
  • Armenia: Tkhakapuyt Aghavni
  • Belarus: šyzy holub
  • Bulgaria: skalen g"l"b
  • Croatia: golub pecinar; gradski Golub; pecinar
  • Czech Republic: holub domácí; holub skalní
  • Denmark: klippedue
  • Eastern Europe: bareski-golumbaika; baresko-golumbo
  • Faroe Islands: bládúgva; bládúva
  • Fiji: ruve
  • Finland: kalliokyyhky; kesykyyhky
  • France: dubet,; pichon
  • Germany: dziwi holb; Felsentaube; Haustaube, Strassentaube; Verwilderte Haustaube; ziwy golub
  • Hungary: szirti galamb
  • Iceland: bjargdúfa; húsdúfa
  • Ireland: colm aille; colunullr aille; pomba brava
  • Isle of Man (UK): calmane creggey
  • Israel: colomba salvaria
  • Italy: colomp salvadi; piccione; piccione domestico; piccione selvatico; piccione selvatico semidomestico; piccione terraiolo; piccione torraiolo
  • Italy/Sardinia: agreste; columbu agreste; columbu aresti; columbu de is arrocas; tidori; tidu; tzidu
  • Japan: dobato; kawarabato; kawara-bato
  • Latvia: klinšu balodis
  • Lithuania: balandis; kieminis; naminis karvelis
  • Macedonia: div gulab
  • Malta: tudun tal-gebel
  • Netherlands: rotsduif
  • Norway: bydue
  • Poland: golab miejski¦Golab skalny; golab skalny; pustynnik
  • Romania: porumbel de stânca
  • Scandinavia: bákteduvvá
  • Serbia: divlji golub; golub pecinar
  • Slovenia: domaci golob
  • Spain: colom roquer; colom roquer,; haitz-uso; kaljutuvi; Xixella
  • Sweden: klippduva; tamduva
  • Switzerland: columba da chasa; columba selvadia
  • Turkey: güvercin
  • UK: colomen ddôf; colomen y graig
  • UK/England and Wales: colom wyls; kolomm an garrek
  • UK/Scotland: calman-creige
  • Ukraine: sizij golub
  • Vietnam: b? câu

Summary of Invasiveness

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Columba livia is native to Europe and has been introduced worldwide as a food source, or for game. These pigeons prefer to live near human habitation, such as farmland and buildings. They cause considerable damage to buildings and monuments because of their corrosive droppings. They also pose a health hazard, since they are capable of transmitting a variety of diseases to humans and to domestic poultry and wildlife.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Columbiformes
  •                         Family: Columbidae
  •                             Genus: Columba
  •                                 Species: Columba livia


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Rock pigeons have a grey body with a whitish rump, two black bars on the secondary wing feathers, a broad blank band on the tail, and red feet. The body colour can vary from grey to white, tan, and black. Body mass is highly variable ranging from 243 to 359g (Johnston & Johnson 1989) and averaging 28cm in length (Williams & Corrigan 1994). When they take off, their wing tips touch, making a characteristic clicking sound. When they glide, their wings are raised at an angle (Williams & Corrigan 1994).


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Native range: Native to most of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa (Avibase, 2007).
Known introduced range: Throughout the world, including Asia, North and South America, Australasia and most island systems worldwide (Avibase, 2007).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
BangladeshPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BhutanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
CambodiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Nei MengguPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-QinghaiPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-XinjiangPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AssamPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-BiharPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ChandigarhPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-DelhiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-GoaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-GujaratPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-HaryanaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-KeralaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-LakshadweepPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MeghalayaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-OdishaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-PuducherryPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-SikkimPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-TripuraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-West BengalPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-JavaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-KalimantanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Nusa TenggaraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-SulawesiPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-SumatraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
KazakhstanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Korea, DPRPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Korea, Republic ofPresentNativeISSG, 2011
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LaosPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LebanonPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MaldivesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MongoliaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MyanmarPresentNativeISSG, 2011
NepalPresentNativeISSG, 2011
PakistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SingaporePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
SyriaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
TaiwanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TajikistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ThailandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TurkeyPresentNativeISSG, 2011
TurkmenistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
UzbekistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
VietnamPresentNativeISSG, 2011


AlgeriaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
AngolaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BotswanaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Burkina FasoPresentNativeISSG, 2011
CameroonPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Cape VerdePresentNativeISSG, 2011
ChadPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ComorosPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeISSG, 2011
DjiboutiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
EgyptPresentNativeISSG, 2011
EritreaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
EthiopiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GabonPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GambiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GhanaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GuineaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeISSG, 2011
KenyaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LesothoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
LiberiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LibyaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MadagascarPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MaliPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MauritaniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MayottePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MoroccoPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MozambiquePresentNativeISSG, 2011
NamibiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
NigeriaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
RéunionPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Rodriguez IslandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Saint HelenaPresentIntroduced16th or early 17th centuryISSG, 2011
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentNativeISSG, 2011
SenegalPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SeychellesPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SomaliaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
South AfricaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Canary IslandsPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SudanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SwazilandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TogoPresentNativeISSG, 2011
TunisiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
UgandaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Western SaharaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ZambiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

North America

BermudaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-AlbertaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-OntarioPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-QuebecPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MexicoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
USAPresentIntroducedEarly 1600s Invasive ISSG, 2011
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-DelawarePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-IdahoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-IndianaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-IowaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-KansasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MainePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MarylandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MichiganPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MississippiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MissouriPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MontanaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-NevadaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-New YorkPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-OhioPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-OregonPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-TennesseePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-TexasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-UtahPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-VermontPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-WyomingPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroduced Not invasive ISSG, 2011
BahamasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BarbadosPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BelizePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced1984 Invasive ISSG, 2011
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
CubaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
GrenadaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
HaitiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
HondurasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
JamaicaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MartiniquePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MontserratPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
PanamaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedJn Pierre, 2008; ISSG, 2011; Krauss, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BoliviaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AcrePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AlagoasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AmapaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-BahiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-CearaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-GoiasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ParaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-ParanaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-PiauiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-RondoniaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-SergipePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-TocantinsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
ChilePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
ColombiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
EcuadorPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Galapagos IslandsRestricted distributionIntroduced1972-73 Invasive ISSG, 2011
French GuianaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
GuyanaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
ParaguayPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
PeruPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
SurinamePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
UruguayPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011


AlbaniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
AndorraPresentNativeISSG, 2011
AustriaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BelarusPresentNativeISSG, 2011
BelgiumPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
BulgariaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
CroatiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
CyprusPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
DenmarkPresentNativeISSG, 2011
EstoniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Faroe IslandsPresentNativeISSG, 2011
FinlandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
FrancePresentNativeISSG, 2011
-CorsicaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GermanyPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GibraltarPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
GreecePresentNativeISSG, 2011
-CretePresentNativeISSG, 2011
GuernseyPresentNativeISSG, 2011
HungaryPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
IcelandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
IrelandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Isle of Man (UK)PresentNativeISSG, 2011
ItalyPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-SardiniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-SicilyPresentNativeISSG, 2011
JerseyPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
LatviaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LiechtensteinPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
LithuaniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LuxembourgPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MacedoniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MaltaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MoldovaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MonacoPresentNativeISSG, 2011
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
NorwayPresentNativeISSG, 2011
PolandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
RomaniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Russian Federation
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Western SiberiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
San MarinoPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SlovakiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SloveniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SpainPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Balearic IslandsPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SwedenPresentNativeISSG, 2011
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-England and WalesPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-ScotlandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
UkrainePresentNativeISSG, 2011
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNativeISSG, 2011


American SamoaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Lord Howe Is.PresentNativeISSG, 2011
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentNativeISSG, 2011
FijiPresentIntroducedbefore 1840 Invasive ISSG, 2011
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MarquesasPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GuamPresentNativeISSG, 2011
KiribatiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
New CaledoniaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
New ZealandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
SamoaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TongaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011


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Rock pigeons prefer human habitations and are commonly found around farm yards, grain elevators, feed mills, parks, city buildings, bridges, and other structures (Williams & Corrigan 1994). In some settings, rock pigeons will roost and nest in natural areas and make daily foraging flights of several kilometres (Baldaccini et al. 2000, Earle & Little 1993, Phillips et al. 2003).

Habitat List

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Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Rock pigeons are primarily granivorous, but will consume insects and other food items (Johnston & Janiga 1995). In rural areas, rock pigeons forage primarily in fields for grains, such as corn, wheat, barley, and oats. In winter when the ground is snow-covered, spilled grain at storage sites (e.g., silos and grain elevators) is an important food source. When available, high protein food items, such as peas, are preferred by rock pigeons. They mostly rely on free-standing water but can also use snow to obtain water (Williams & Corrigan 1994).

Rock pigeons are monogamous. The male provides nesting material and guards the female and the nest. The young are fed pigeon milk, a liquid solid substance secreted in the crop of the adult (both male and female) that is regurgitated. Breeding may occur at all seasons, but peak reproduction occurs in the spring and fall. A population of rock pigeons usually consists of equal numbers of males and females (Williams & Corrigan 1994).
Lifecycle stages
Eggs are laid 8 to12 days after mating, with a normal clutch size of 1 to 2 eggs, but up to 4. The eggs hatch after 16 to 21 days incubation and the young fledge at 4 to 6 weeks of age. More eggs are laid before the first clutch leaves the nest. Sexual maturity occurs after 6 months of age. In captivity, rock pigeons commonly live up to 15 years. In urban populations, however, rock pigeons seldom live more than 3 or 4 years (Johnston & Janiga 1995, Williams & Corrigan 1994).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction pathways to new locations
Live food trade: Pigeons have been introduced as a food source (Eguchi & Amano 2004)
Transportation of domesticated animals: Europeans moving to new locations were a source of early introduced populations (Robbins 1995).

Local dispersal methods
Escape from confinement: Some rock pigeons kept by fanciers for homing and racing competition fail to return to their lofts, establishing new populations or bolstering existing ones (Robbins 1995).

Natural dispersal (local): Rock pigeons are not considered migratory, but are known to make daily roundtrip flights in excess of 50 km from roosting and nesting sites to feeding areas (Johnston & Janiga 1995). Within urban habitats, recruitment from adjacent rock pigeon sub-populations compensates for losses from natural mortality or control efforts (Sol & Senar 1995, Rose et al. 2006).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal production Yes Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
Live food or feed trade Yes
Self-propelled Yes

Impact Summary

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Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Negative


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General Impacts

Compiled by IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Rock pigeons are known to transmit pigeon ornithosis, encephalitis, Exotic Newcastle Disease, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, salmonella food poisoning, and several other diseases (Weber 1979, Long 1981). Rock pigeons and their nests are infested with ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and mites, which can cause health problems for humans (Dautel et al. 1991, Haag & Spiewak 2004).
Rock pigeon droppings can accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase cost of maintenance (Haag 1995). Large amounts of droppings may kill vegetation and produce an objectionable odour. Around grain handling facilities, pigeons consume and contaminate large quantities of food destined for human or livestock consumption (Little 1994). Furthermore, rock pigeons located around airports can be a threat to human safety because of potential bird-craft collisions (Seamans et al. 2007). In the U.S. alone, they cause $1.1 billion dollars of damage in urban areas annually (Pimentel et al. 1999). In the Galápagos, the rock pigeon is the carrier of Trichomonas gallinae, a potentially fatal disease for endemic Galápagos doves and poultry (Harmon et al.1987).

Risk and Impact Factors

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Impact mechanisms

  • Fouling
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Pest and disease transmission

Impact outcomes

  • Damages animal/plant products
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Threat to/ loss of native species


  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Gregarious
  • Proved invasive outside its native range


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Rock pigeons are kept and bred by pigeon fanciers for homing and racing competition (Robbins 1995) and in some locations such as Japan (Eguchi & Amano 2004) and the Galápagos Islands (Phillips et al. 2003) they are kept as a food source. In cities worldwide rock pigeons are a source of pleasure for many people who enjoy watching and feeding them.

Uses List

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  • Game bird
  • Ornamental
  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

  • Fresh meat

Prevention and Control

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Management Information

Compiled by IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Preventative measures: Several techniques are available to prevent rock pigeons from establishing in an area or to exclude them if they are already established (Williams & Corrigan, 1994). Habitat modification includes physically altering roosting and nesting sites and removing food and water sources. The latter two aspects are critical for long-term control and require cooperation from the public. Exclusion methods, such as blocking access to roost sites or installing anti-perching devices are effective. Rock pigeons can also be prevented from perching or roosting by applying various chemical repellents to these areas.

Physical: Williams & Corrigan (1994) suggested that frightening, repellents, trapping, shooting, and nest removal may be useful and practical approaches to manage rock pigeons in conjunction with habitat modification measures.

Chemical: Toxicants, including both oral and contact poisons, may also be used to control rock pigeons. Oral poisons require prebaiting before the toxicant can be applied and can pose significant risks to non-target species (Williams & Corrigan, 1994). Fumigants can also be used to control rock pigeons, however, they are generally not practical (Williams & Corrigan, 1994).
Please follow this link for more details about preventative measures, physical and chemical control methods Hygnstrom, et al. 1994.

Integrated management: Eradication campaigns have been carried out on Isabela, San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz islands using a combination of methods: shooting, catching them by hand, using baits laced with alpha-chloralose to stupefy them (Phillips, R. B., unpublished data).


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Avibase ( The world database), Online database Columbia livia

Buden, D.W. 2000. A comparison of 1983 and 1994 bird surveys of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. In Wilson Bull 112(3): 403-410.

CONABIO. 2008. Sistema de información sobre especies invasoras en México. Especies invasoras - Aves. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Fecha de acceso.

Eguchi, K. and Amano, H.E. 2004. Spread of exotic birds in Japan. In Ornithological Science 3:3-11.

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Reviewed by: R. Brand Phillips, PhD Candidate Department of Biology University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA
    Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 29, 2008

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