Columba oenas (*)
Columba oenas Linnaeus, 1758
Systema Naturae ed.10 p.162
The Stock Dove or Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas) is a member of the family Columbidae, doves and pigeons.
The three western European Columba pigeons, though superficially alike, have very distinctive characteristics. The Wood Pigeon may be readily distinguished by the white on its neck (in adults) and wings. The Rock Pigeon and Stock Dove are more alike in size and plumage, but wild specimens of the former have a white rump and two well-marked dark bars on the wing, while the rump of the Stock Dove is grey and its wing bars incomplete. The feral pigeon (the same species as Rock Pigeon) is highly variable, and indistinctly marked grey specimens with the white rump missing can sometimes resemble the Stock Dove quite closely.
The Stock Dove is sociable as well as gregarious, often consorting with Wood Pigeons, though doubtless it is the presence of food which brings them together.
The short, deep, "grunting" Ooo-uu-ooh call is quite distinct from the modulated cooing notes of the Wood Pigeon; it is loud enough to be described, somewhat fancifully, as "roaring".
The common name Stock Dove has caused some confusion about the origins of this bird. The modern usage of the word "stock" might imply that the bird has been tamed and kept as stock for food and merchandise, leading to the belief that this bird is a hybrid breed with its origins in human aviaries; however this is not the case. The word "Stock" in the common name of this species refers not to the stock of trade, but comes from the Old English "stocc" meaning "stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log,". Therefore, "Stock Dove" means "a dove which lives in hollow trees". Such hollow trees near human settlements would often be taken and used as wood stock for firewood, hence the name.
In the northern part of its European and western Asiatic range the Stock Dove is a migrant, elsewhere it is a well distributed and often plentiful resident.
The haunts of the Stock Dove are in more or less open country, for though it often nests in trees it prefers parklands to thick woods. It is also common on coasts where the cliffs provide holes. Its flight is quick, performed by regular beats, with an occasional sharp flick of the wings, characteristic of pigeons in general.
It perches well, and in nuptial display walks along a horizontal branch with swelled neck, lowered wings, and fanned tail. During the circling spring flight the wings are smartly cracked like a whip.
Most of its food is vegetable; young shoots and seedlings are favoured, and it will take grain as well as insects and snails.
The nest (though nesting material is seldom used) is usually in a hole in a tree, a crack in a rock face, or in a rabbit burrow, but the bird also nests in ivy, or in the thick growth round the boles of common lime (linden) trees. It will also use nest boxes.
1. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary stock (n.1)"
* BirdLife International (2004). Columba oenas. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 08 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
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