It may be considered to be a trash bird by some. It is certainly thought of as a pest as far as farmers are concerned. But the Common Woodpigeon is one of the easiest ticks for any American birder passing through the UK. It can be seen anywhere there are trees or meadows. It can be seen on street lamps and crossing over motorways. Even gazing wistfully from a transit lounge will probably turn up a Columba palumbus.

KEN 09Sep15 Woodpigeon 01

It is a large, abundant pigeon whose numbers are swollen by European migrants during the winter. Closely related to the Feral Pigeon and Stock Dove, the woodpigeon (we seldom bother with the pre-fix) is easily recognised by its large size, white neckpatch and the white, transverse bars on its wings. In fact, so large and abundant is it, that French hunters often cross La Manche to shoot birds in Kent and no-one seems to mind.The only other likely Columbidae would be the Eurasian Collared Dove and European Turtle Dove. At distance, flocks are looser and far less synchronised that Feral pigeons.

KEN 09Sep15 Woodpigeon 04

A woodpigeon often sits on my roof, near the chimney. This appears to be a favoured spot from which to call. and a peculiarity of my old house channels the sound down the flue and into the living room where the fireplace acts as a sounding horn. Their call is a hoarse, throaty, 5-syllable; I’m a pi-geon yes/ I’m a pi-geon are/ you a pi-geon too? The emphasis is on the first note of the phrase with a slight gathering of speed as the tone of the note drops. An auditory illusion makes the stress appear to come on the second syllable as the phrases run into one another.

KEN 09Sep15 Woodpigeon 06

An American birder might consider a hybrid with the size (actually, slightly bigger) of a Band-tailed Pigeon and the wing pattern of a White-winged Dove. Add a broad, dark tail band and you pretty much have a woodpigeon.




Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.