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Richard Brooke wrote in the text for the first bird atlas (when Rock Doves were still called Feral Pigeons): "Feral Pigeons are derived from escaped domestic stock first brought from the Netherlands to South Africa in 1652. When escaped birds first become feral is unknown." In 1997, Richard could write: "They are birds of central urban and industrial areas, including harbours." Nowadays, they also are prevalent in the suburbs, and are increasingly becoming common in agricultural areas. For example, they have largely replaced the Speckled Pigeons on most of the dairy farms in the Swartland. The generally upwards and outwards pattern for the Rock Dove is nicely shown on the SABAP1 vs SABAP2 range change map – the predominant colours are GREEN (upwards, higher reporting rate) and BLUE (outwards, new range).
Feral birds usually breed on the ledges of buildings. Richard noted: “In a few places they have returned to nesting on cliffs, the ancestral site.” If you see Rock Doves breeding anywhere other than on buildings, please write it up as a short note for the ejournal Ornithological Observations. There are only six pictures of Rock Doves in the BirdPix Virtual Museum. One of them, taken in the food plaza at UCT is shown here! It is Record 4108 in the BirdPix Virtual Museum. We would like to see photos not only of the "wild type" Rock Dove, with the irridescent green and purple neck and generally grey underparts, but also of the black, brown and white hybrids, which have clearly derived from birds which more recently became feral. Upload the records to the Virtual Museum at vmus.adu.org.za. Help with uploading records is provided here.
The Rock Dove is native to Mediterranean Sea region and eastward to India. There are introductions to all continents, except Antartica.
Richard's final observation, in his atlas text, dealt with the health of urban populations of Rock Doves: "While there is no interest in the conservation of the Feral Pigeon, it is noticeable that in urban flocks there are many deformed and sickly birds. This is probably due to urban scavenging not always producing a nutritionally balanced diet, or to the effects of pollution."