Pigeon toes and the feral rock doves that live at the pier


Are pigeons pigeon-toed?


I suppose by definition, yes?


Geek out to the variety of toe arrangements (dactyly) in birds. Pigeons are anisodactyl, like most “perching” birds aka passerines.


Here’s an interesting pigeon toe. It’s got a white nail.


And one white nail on the other foot too.

Does this bird have an all-white great-grandparent? A ceremonial release dove or homing/ racing pigeon that did not go home?


Many pigeons I see regularly on the pier at Indian RiverSide Park have some color variations beyond the blue barred pattern of plain old Columba livia, the rock dove (rock pigeon, common pigeon). Maybe they are descendants of some escaped or released domestic birds?

Hm, technically all pigeons in North America are feral…

The pigeons or rock doves (Columba livia) found in North America are the feral offspring of pigeons brought to this continent by European immigrants. Pigeons are domesticated animals raised for sport racing, show and for food (squab). The ancestors of the pigeons we see in our cities and on our farms escaped from captivity and found a favorable environment living with humans. Feral pigeons now have a cosmopolitan distribution, having become established every place humans have built cities.

The feral pigeons found in Florida and North America are extremely variable in coloration. They exhibit the full range of coloration that domestication and selective breeding have produced. All pigeons that were developed from rock doves (Figure 1) have a white rump, usually a white diamond-shaped patch just above the tail feathers. In white birds the white rump blends with the general body color. Many pigeons have retained the ancestral rock dove coloration: gray body, darker gray head and neck, white rump, dark band on the end of the tail, dark wing tips, and two black stripes running along the back edge of each wing.

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