Rock Dove (Common Pigeon)
Rock doves, also known as common pigeons, are stout birds with small heads, short legs and broad pointed wings. While many are bluish gray, they can vary in color but most have iridescent throat feathers, banded wings and black tail tips. They eat mostly seeds and fruit in the wild and rarely invertebrates, although city-dwelling rock doves and those living in urban centers also eat human food.
Considered one of the most intelligent of bird species, rock doves are found all over the world except Antarctica. They originated in Europe and were used as food, sport and pets. Because they were bred to be devoted to humans, they have flourished in proximity to cities and urban centers. While they are considered an invasive species, they play an important role in the ecosystem, especially here in the Bay Area.
Like our Virginia opossum and Barred Owl, which are not native to California, our rock dove will help paint the complete picture of wildlife found in our very own backyards.
Atlas is our first rock dove animal ambassador. He was brought to Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in 2019 after he was picked up by a dog. Two-week-old Atlas suffered only a minor fracture in his wing, which healed perfectly.
To demonstrate just how agile and acrobatic pigeons are in flight, Atlas’s keepers are training him to fly on cue. From the very beginning, his baby feeding tools were wrapped in purple vet wrap to encourage Atlas to associate food with that color. In adulthood, Atlas flies to his purple seed shaker for a treat!
Atlas has been fitted with a custom flight suit (complete with the Lindsay Wildlife logo) that he will wear in future flight demonstrations.