Feral pigeons (Columba livia) can easily be overlooked as we go about our daily lives. Yet, these seemingly familiar birds have many secrets still to reveal. The fact that they have been successful is clear, yet the means behind their success is less understood. Descended from the rock dove which traditionally nested on cliffs, domesticated birds inevitably escaped and founded feral populations across the globe.

Scientists have long wondered why feral pigeon populations show such plumage diversity compared to other feral animals. Generally, feral animals revert to the wild or ancestral type (in this case a blue-bar colouration), yet towns and cities are full of pigeons of a wide variety of   colours.  The question is, what causes this variation? Is it that female pigeons are choosing particular coloured males or vice versa? Are particular coloured pigeons more or less vulnerable to predation?

Given that the ancestral rock dove populations were all of the same colouration, what is the process behind any differences in mate choice by either sex and are certain coloured pigeons more productive?

I’ll be looking at the research conducted to date into these very questions and looking at gaps for future research projects.

There are sure to be many new findings to  be had which may not only tell us about feral pigeon ecology but also the ecology of other bird species.

I look forward to sharing with you the findings of prior research and hopefully my own future projects.