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Rock pigeons are sedentary birds and can be either domestic or wild. Domestic pigeons have grown wild in Tenerife and are associated with buildings, bridges and other structures. The island also has many culturally rooted associations of pigeon lovers who carry out many different activities with these birds.

Rock pigeons are in a critical situation because little is known of the status of their populations. They are also affected by feral pigeons that are in a wild state after escaping from domestication. Wild rock pigeons measure 33 centimetres. They are slate grey with green and pinkish iridescent throat feathers and white rumps.

The domestic varieties exist in many different sizes and plumage colours. Domestic pigeons are now considered a plague on Tenerife Island. Amateur pigeon lovers are in the habit of banding and painting their birds in different colours.


The best habitats for wild rock pigeons on Tenerife Island are found in the ravines in the south and west. They can be observed at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2,000 metres above sea level.

Domestic pigeons are frequent everywhere on the island, and mostly in crowed places, cities and towns, hotel and tourist complexes, beaches, semi-extensive livestock farms, breakwaters, bridges and other structures, and abandoned buildings.  They make the best of any facility with open spaces where they can find shelter and look for food, particularly farms with livestock, farmyards, city squares, vegetable gardens, warehouses, and agriculture and livestock facilities. Morevover, domestic pigeons colonise the nature areas where wild pigeons live, including crags, cliffs and natural rock walls.

Rock pigeons are frugivorous, feeding on seeds, grain, nuts and dried fruit, and tender shoots. Domestic pigeons are capable of eating all the food humans waste, from breadcrumbs to pieces of meat and fish. Pigeons can cover long distances in search of food. They gather into flocks and fly in straight lines to the places where they can roost and find food and water. Big flocks attract more flocks, and this gregarious behaviour means that several thousands of specimens may be concentrated around sources of food. Pigeons' facility for visual communication means that flocks of pigeons can attack any one spot on the island in a matter of hours. Sheer numbers and such gregarious behaviour are what make pigeons a plague.

Social organisation and reproduction

Rock pigeons form colonies. Their social nature is noticeable both in the places where they nest and where they eat, drink and roost. That is one reason why it is difficult to assess the current status of wild pigeons. There have been remarkably few observations on their reproductive biology to date. March to August is considered the season for mating, reproducing and raising the squabs (baby pigeons), but with the domestic variety it may continue year round. Rock pigeons make their nests in hollows, caves, bends, cliff ledges and ravine walls, whereas the domestic variety takes advantage of similar spaces on the walls of buildings and other structures.

Rock pigeons normally lay eggs two or three times a year, and domestic pigeons up to five times. They lay two white eggs at a time. Male and female pigeons incubate the eggs. Squabs leave the nest 25 days after hatching. Young pigeons join pigeon flocks and rapidly learn where to find the best places to feed, drink, roost and reproduce. Pigeons can be extremely long-lived. They may live to be more than 20 years old and even reach 35, so they accumulate considerable experience and have excellent memories.

Hunting management

They are hunted from a fixed waiting position, although hunters also shoot at them when they fly overhead. Fixed locations for hunting pigeons have not yet been identified or officially recognised. They need to be catalogued for human safety and to regulate hunting. It is convenient to protect wild pigeons and concentrate on hunting the domestic variety. There is no limit to the number of domestic pigeons that may be captured during the hunting season, owing to their abundance and status as a plague.

Hunting from a fixed location has several inconveniences that should be resolved in the near future.


Wild pigeons.

Domestic pigeons.

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