The three western European Columba pigeons, though superficially alike, have very distinctive characteristics. The Wood Pigeon is 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.
Habitat and Distribution
The Stock Dove is the rarest of the wild European pigeons. In part of its European and western Asiatic range it is a migrant. The habitat of the Stock Dove is generally open country. Even though it nests in trees it does not prefer densely wooded areas. It is also common on coasts where the cliffs provide holes.
Most of its food is plant material; young shoots and seedlings. It will take grain as well as insects and snails. In some areas it feeds mostly on acorns and pine seeds.They also eat berries, figs, cereal grains, beans, peas, and small invertebrates.
The nest is usually in a hole in an old tree. It has been observed nesting in rabbit burrows, ruins, old poplar hedges, cracks in crags or cliff faces, in ivy, and in the thick growth around the boles of lime trees. It will also use nest boxes.
Calls and Songs
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`.