Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)


Columbiformes Columbidae Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

[order] Columbiformes | [family] Columbidae | [latin] Columba palumbus | [UK] Wood-Pigeon | [FR] Pigeon ramier | [DE] Ringeltaube | [ES] Paloma Torcaz | [IT] Colombaccio | [NL] Houtduif

Physical charateristics

Primaries black with pale edges, breast mauve-pink merging to creamy on belly. Flanks grey, feathers along edge of wing white, forming a band on open wing.
Iridescent purple-pink and green feathers beside a white patch on each side or neck, rectrices grey with broad black terminal band. Pale greyish whie central band evident on underside of tail, but less conspicuous on upperside. Iris greenish white to pale golden. Orbital skin grey. Bill purplish pink basally, golden distally, cere white. Legs reddish purple.
Races maderensis and azorica duller, with smaller neck patches.
Race excelsa tends to be brigther, and iranica has bill whitish to pale yellow.
Race casiotis has neck paches creamy buff rather than white.

wingspan min.: 68 cm wingspan max.: 77 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 34 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Columba palumbus is a widespread breeder throughout Europe, which constitutes
>75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large
(>9,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. The key populations in
Germany and the United Kingdom increased during 1990-2000, and the species
increased slightly overall.

Listen to the sound of Wood-Pigeon

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto


Typically a species of ecotone in deciduous or coniferous woodland, sometimes up to tree-line in the Alps. In C Eurpe breeds on edge of old mixed pine and oke forests. In other places found in ash forests, also inhabits plantantions of exotics notably Sitka spruce and Douglas fir.

Foraging habits

Most of diet made up of plant matter, including green leaves, buds, flower, seeds, berries and root crops.
Various invertebrates are also occasionally eaten, including earthworms, gall wasps, beetles, pupae of lepidoptera, spiders, slugs and snails.
Takes most of food from ground, but also feeds in trees.

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Breeding habits

Nest consists of twigs, grasses and leaves. Nest become bulkier with repeated use. Placed up to 3 m above ground in fork of tree or on branch,in a creeper in tree, or rarely on ground in thick vegetation or under a hedge. 1-3 white eggs, incubation 17 days.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 18,000,000-34,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase, and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. (source Birdlife.org)

Wood-Pigeon status Least Concern


North and East European birds mostly migratory, as are West Siberian populations; species partially migratory or resident in West, Central & South Europe. Populations living in middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco fly daily to plains to feed, although some individuals may forage only 15 m from the nest.

Distribution map breeding season

Wood-Pigeon range map summer


Title The census and distribution of wintering
woodpigeons Columba palumbus in the
Iberian peninsula
Author(s): Bea, A., Beitia, R. and Fernández, J. M. 2003.
Abstract: Throughout the 1997-1998, 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 ..[more]..
Source: Ornis Hung. 12-13: 157-167.

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