To a countryman one of the most striking options that come with bird-life in the parks based in london is the sight of the wood pigeon like a fearless mixer with mankind, for in the country this really is one of the most wary and unapproachable of birds.
Since the country wood pigeon often associates with the smaller stock dove, it appears likely that the presence of the well-fed ‘London pigeon’ transmits a feeling of security for this more unlikely candidate for citizenship.
Those who have seen large winter flocks of wood pigeons must wonder (if he accepts the generally held belief that they’re British-bred birds, unaugmented by foreign immigrants) where they’ve all originated from, and why they’re such an obviously successful species.
Their nests neither conceal nor protect their eggs; their clutch is of two eggs only, which, from their whiteness, are extremely conspicuous they seem doomed found by the egg-thieving crow or jay. Pure white eggs are normal of birds which habitually nest in dark holes-owls, woodpeckers and kingfishers-and therefore need no nest-building skills. It’s perhaps significant that lots of members of the pigeon family, including our stock dove and rock dove, continue to be in this category.
This means that that the wood pigeon has deviated from the methods for some distant ancestral hole-nester and it has become only partially adapted in the few nest-construction, and totally unadapted regarding egg-colour. Yet, regardless of these apparent drawbacks, wood pigeon population keeps in a remarkably higher level.
Three main factors bring about this success: the wood pigeon includes a long expectation of life, probably from ten to 15 years; although it raises a little family, the breeding-season is protracted, and three broods are usual between April and December; and most helpful of, the virtual lack of controlling predators, from large hawks to pine-martens.