There has been a tribe of Woodpigeons living round our back gardens since at least 1995. The UK’s largest pigeon, Columba palumbus has soft blue-grey plumage with a rosy chest & a cream white tummy. The Woodpigeon neck has iridescent green feathers with a white band wrapping halfway round it from the back. Their tail is grey with an inner black stripe, visible below our tea tray feeder as they grip onto its rim in the morning breakfast feeding frenzy.
The Woodpigeon coo is strangely hypnotic. Large and stately, like feathered cruise ships, they have a presence about them. They are placid around other birds but can be quite fierce with each other, or where food is concerned. They were especially fond of pecking elderberries from our old Elder tree, venturing far out onto the tips of the branches to reach them.
Click here to watch a video of Wood Pigeon eating berries & acorns, hear the Wood Pigeon call & read about what they eat & other vital statistics…
Wood Pigeon Bird Facts – RSPB https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/woodpigeon/
Wood Pigeon / Bird Identification Guide/ Bird Spot – Mozilla Firefox – https://www.birdspot.co.uk/bird-identification/wood-pigeon
SUMO WRESTLING WOODPIGEONS
Woodpigeons battle at high table in the morning for grated cheese, sunflowers & soaked, crumbled seedy bread. Two of them will stand in opposite corners of the table, each trying to intimidate their opponent.
They draw themselves up to their full height with chests out, bring their beaks down to the centre of the table & peck the air in front of them rather than each other. If there are only two Woodies, this is enough to keep both opponents in opposite corners of the ring while they gobble up bread & cheese & sunflower seeds.
Another Woodpigeon move is a loud snap of the wing towards the opponent, like a karate chop that does not make contact. It is still intimidating. Often a Starling or Sparrow will land & peck up some food while the Woodies do their martial arts.
VIDEO – PECKING ORDER AT BREAKFAST BIRDTABLE
The crows are loudest in this video, but they never come into the garden. Their caws can be heard as they fly overhead or roost in the tops of our neighbour’s tall trees – particularly the great Ash and the Sycamores. The Wood Pigeon can just be seen making the chopping move, pecking the air in front of it.
Some Street Pigeons now also appear for breakfast, but only the feistiest will take on the Woodies. Late arrivals trying to land on the table will be pecked by the Woodpigeon in situ. The Woodies spread their wings & snap them loudly, flapping & thumping into one another – each trying, like a Sumo wrestler, to unbalance its opponent & knock it out of the enclosure.
Any bird unable to fight its corner is bumped off the high table. In a welter of flying food & belligerent cooing, the dislodged bird falls, flapping, from the table. It lands on a branch, the birdbath, the ground… gathers up its dignity & tries again. This goes on till all food on the high table has been eaten. Then the Woodpigeons fly to one of the nearby trees or land on a roof, where they will sit quietly and sleep.
The High Table was replaced a few years ago by the Brass Tea Tray. It has proved popular with male street pigeons for courtship displays & neck wrestling, once breakfast is over.
VIDEO – WOODPIGEONS AT BIRDBATH