Fr: Pigeon colombin
Ang: Stock Dove – Stock Pigeon
All: Hohltaube
Esp: Paloma Zurita
Ita: Colombella
Nd: Holenduif
Sd: skogsduva


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HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 4 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334229

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Stock Dove Facts - Information About Stock Dove


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Stock Dove or Stock Pigeon
Columba oenas

Columbiformes Order – Columbidae Family

The Stock Dove or Stock Pigeon is often confused with the Common Wood Pigeon, but the latter is far larger and commoner. They have fairly similar plumage, but the Stock Dove lacks the white areas.
The Stock Dove has a wide distribution shared by two subspecies. It is found in Europe and W Asia. The northernmost populations are almost all migratory.
This species was probably a bird of forest edges and sparsely wooded steppes, but today, it frequents cultivated fields and areas with old trees providing suitable nest-sites. It feeds on seeds, almost exclusively on the ground.
The Stock Dove nests in cavities, like the Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon. It usually occupies tree holes, cavities in old buildings or ruins, and rock crevices in cliffs, but it has also been observed nesting in rabbit burrows or in abandoned Common Wood Pigeon nest, when its preferred sites are not available.

The name of this species, and especially the word “stock”, comes from the Old English “stocc” meaning “stump, post, tree trunk or log”. The name Stock Dove means roughly “a dove which lives in hollow trees”.
The Stock Dove is locally fairly common in some parts of the wide range. The population is now slowly increasing and currently, the species is not globally threatened.  

Length: 32-34 cm
Wingspan: 60-65 cm
Weight: M: 303-365 g – F: 286-290 g

The Stock Dove has blue-grey plumage overall, but in flight, the black tips of primaries and secondaries are conspicuous. On the upperwing, we can see two short black bars visible on folded wings, and a third shorter and fainter black bar, possibly more conspicuous in males. The tail shows a broad blackish terminal band, and the outermost rectrices are edged with white.    
The underparts are paler grey with pinkish breast and foreneck. The underwing coverts are pale grey, but the flight-feathers are darker.   

The head is more blue-grey with distinctive green and pinkish iridescent patch on neck sides, sometimes joining on the hindneck.
The bill is basally purple-red with pinkish-white cere and yellow to whitish distal half. The eyes are dark brown, surrounded by narrow, blue-grey eyering. Legs and feet are reddish.

The female has usually duller grey plumage, while bill, legs and feet are darker than in male.   
The juvenile is duller and browner than adult. The glossy neck patch is absent and the purple-pink area of the underparts is more restricted.

The Stock Dove has two subspecies.
C.o. oenas (described above) occurs in W Europe, from British Islands, N to S Scandinavia and Finland, then S to Portugal and NW Africa, and E through Caucasus and N Iran to NE Kazakhstan and SW Siberia.

C.o. yarkandensis is found in E Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, E through Tien Shan and Tarim Basin to Lop Nur (E Xinjiang).  
This race has paler plumage than nominate on head, rump and underparts. The wings are slightly longer.  

The Stock Dove is often seen in fairly open country and agricultural land with trees, but it also frequents open woodland with old trees for nesting, forest edges and locally urban parks and even beaches on low-lying coasts and where cliffs provide nest-sites.

The Stock Dove is not very vocal and it is more often heard near the breeding sites.
The advertising call carries well through the woods. It is described as a deep, low, growling “ooo-oh” or “ooo-er” with the first syllable gruffer and more drawn out. During the displays, it gives a very faint “coo” only audible at close quarters. We can also hear a soft sound, probably produced by bill-snapping.  

The Stock Dove feeds usually on the ground and less often in trees. It feeds on various plant materials including acorns, seeds (Pine), beech-mast (Fagus), green leaves, buds and flowers, and takes sometimes invertebrates such as insects and snails. However, berries such as bay and hawthorn, figs, beans and peas are also part of its diet.    
The Stock Dove feeds while walking on the ground.
It is more often seen in pairs and small groups, although large flocks of up to 500 individuals have been recorded.

At the beginning of the breeding season, the typical courtship displays involve the male walking towards the female with the tail depressed, and then bowing. It also performs aerial displays above and between the trees. It flies in wide circles with quite deep wingbeats producing a clapping of the wings over the back. Then, it glides down to a perch while the wings are slightly raised above the body.

The Stock Dove nests in cavities such as tree holes, rock crevices or even nest-boxes. Competition for holes is hard, as Eurasian or Western Jackdaw, Tawny Owl and Grey Squirrels also use this type of nests. Both parents share the nesting duties.
Outside of breeding season, they also roost in cavities.

The northern populations are migratory and may sometimes perform large movements. Most of them winter in S France and Iberia.
On the other hand, more southerly populations are becoming less migratory. They are mainly resident in S Europe and Asia Minor.

The flight of the Stock Dove is fast with regular wingbeats and occasional sharp flick of the wings, usual in pigeons. The flight is faster than that of the Common Wood Pigeon.

The breeding season takes place mainly between February/April and September/October.
Following hard competition with other birds for nesting cavities, the Stock Dove selects a nest-site such as hole in old tree, abandoned nest hole by the Black Woodpecker, rock crevice in cliff, hole in building or ruins, and even rabbit burrow when holes are not available. It may also use nest-boxes.
It does not build a nest but the floor of the cavity may be lined with some twigs, grasses or leaves. But sometimes, the eggs are laid on the bare wood.

The female lays two creamy-white eggs, sometimes only one. Both adults share the incubation during 16-18 days, and the young fledge about 20-30 days after hatching.
The chicks are typically fed on “milk” from adult’s crop. It is usually known as “pigeon’s milk”. This is a milky secretion taken by the chicks by thrusting the bill into the throat of the adults.
This species may produce up to four broods per year, normally from March to September.

The Stock Dove is described as locally fairly common in some parts of the wide range.
The European population is roughly estimated at 1,120,000/2,070,000 mature individuals (2015) and Europe forms 80% of the global range. A very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 1,400,000/2,600,000 mature individuals. But more information is needed.
Despite severe declines caused by new herbicides after the 1950s, the species has recovered to a limited extent and a moderate increase was mentioned in Europe between 1980 and 2013. The species is not globally threatened and the Stock Dove is currently evaluated as Least Concern.