Pigeons & Doves

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus). Photo: Seán Ronayne

A very common resident species which is supplemented by northern migrants in winter, this species is a common sight in a wide range of habitats. Seen as a rather clumsy bird, its simple yet endearing song is widely heard throughout, at all times of the year.

Song is a predictable, and repetitive series of phrases with varying accentuations, and typically goes like:

“Huw – huuuuuuw – huuw hoohooo, hoo huuuuuuuw hoo, hoohooo….” These verses of five notes are typically repeated a number of times and are often, but not always, abruptly cut to and end, something like this: “Huw – huuuuuuw – huuw hoohooo – HUW.” Looking at this, it may appear a bit strange, but listen to the following audio simultaneously, and you’ll see the pattern, and hear the emphasized phrases:


Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto). Photo: Tony Hisgett – Flickr

Collared Dove, is similar to the closely related Wood Pigeon in many ways, however, it is smaller, paler and has a striking black collar. This species is rarely found away from the presence of humans.

The song, although it sounds characteristically pigeon-like, is usually shorter, with fewer notes. It usually contains three notes (compared to 5 in Wood Pigeon), with the first two, particularly the second, much longer than the third. This three-note phrase is usually repeated several times, and goes something like: “hooo-hooooooo hoo, hooo-hooooooo hoo…”

The call of the species, often given in flight, is a very characteristic hoarse, cutting yet gentle-sounding “kreeuuu“. In the following audio, you can hear this call uttered three times, before the bird takes off, with characteristic whistling wings. The is a common scenario at the garden feeding station when birds fly in and out, jostling for position.