The Woodpigeon is a familiar, plump bird which is very common across the whole of Europe. It can be found in almost any sort of habitat, but favours woodlands, gardens and parkland, whether in an urban or a rural situation.
Woodpigeons are very prolific birds, producing youngsters from March through to late November if the weather is suitable, and in the autumn months huge flocks containing many hundreds can be seen in agricultural areas.
Woodpigeons have a small head, a very full-chested look, broad wings and a longish tail. The bill has a dull reddish base, yellow tip and white cere. The eye is pale yellow and the feet and legs are pinkish. Their plumage pattern is distinctive, both in flight and on the ground.
The juvenile Woodpigeon lacks the greenish gloss on the hindneck as well as the white neck patch. The breast is duller, showing a more buffpink colour. The eye is a darker orange-yellow than the adult’s, although other bare parts remain the same.
An adult Woodpigeon’s head is pale blue-grey, with a greenish gloss on the hindneck, a white neck patch and blue-grey nape and rump. The closed wing is darker grey, with white on the forewing and black flight feathers. The tail is grey with a broad black terminal band. The breast is purplish-pink, fading to white on the belly area.
Large flocks of Woodpigeons are a common sight. They take off with an almighty clatter as they leave fields or trees. They are capable of quick flight, with very deep wingbeats.
When seen from above, the white neck collar and large white wing patches are immediately apparent. From below, the most obvious features are the pale grey underwing, the pink breast, the off-white belly and the tail band.
A common sight in rural areas of Britain during the early autumn is that of flocks of Woodpigeons out and about feeding on fields of cut corn. Farmers will go to great lengths to deter the pigeons, but these seldom have any real effect.