The Woodpigeon is the largest member of the pigeon family to occur in Britain & Ireland. Blue-grey in colouration on the upper surface with a pink chest and a characteristic white neck patch (in the adults, missing in juveniles).
In silhouette, the Woodpigeon appears heavy-chested and relatively long-tailed. The bright white wing flashes are evident in flight. The most commonly heard call is the 'COOO coo coo-coo coo'.
Recent changes in farming appear to have benefited the Woodpigeon and the population has increased in many areas, notably the south east of England and East Anglia. This increase may well be the result of the change from spring-sown to autumn sown grain and the introduction of oil seed rape. The knock-on effect of this has been the increase in the Garden BirdWatch reporting rate for Woodpigeon.
Unlike other garden birds, Woodpigeons do not have to lift their heads when they are drinking water. Even odder is the fact that Woodpigeons feed their young on a milk-like liquid secreted from their crops. This enables them to use foodstuffs other than invertebrates, to produce the protein needed by developing chicks. Although they can be greedy feeders, taking large amounts of food put out for other garden visitors, they are an interesting species and well worth watching.
Paper call for special HPAI issue
We are putting together a special issue of the BTO journal Bird Study to bring together research documenting the HPAI outbreak and its impacts on wild birds.