Monday, March 16, 2015

Wood Pigeon

Something of the annoyed retired Colnel about this bird.
I had thought wood pigeon was spelled woodpigeon but it appears I was wrong. It's Latin name is Columba palumbus, palumbus being the Latin for wood pigeon.
It is one of the most numerous wild birds in the UK with an estimated 3 million breeding pairs and up to 10 million at the end of the breeding season (which is one of the longest of British birds). One is building a nest in the laurel as I type. 
They are the UK's worst agricultural pest. In the past they were widely culled but it was discovered that the culling (which occurred in the Autumn) did little to diminish the numbers as many succumb to insufficient food resources over winter and culling reduced the pressure on said resources.
In a way it's a shame that they're not more widely eaten: a bit like wild deer, they seem a free and 'low carbon' source of protein. A friend of mine who's gone to live in Australia was a regular wood pigeon killer, taking the breasts to pan-fry in various delicious ways. I acquired his air rifle but confess to not yet getting round to exploiting nature's bounty.
Their call is similar to that of the collared dove, but consists of five, not three, syllables. Mr Sample renders it as "a-proud-wood-pig-eon".

They were known as 'culvers' in England, from the Old English name for the bird. This is of interest to me because there is a mysterious man-made structure on build into the cliffs of south Gower just west of Port Eynon called 'Culver Hole'. There are lots of local legends as to what its purpose was, from smuggling warehouse to pigeon-loft. The latter now seems most plausible.
Post a Comment