STOCK DOVE (Columba oenas)

Pigeon columbine  

This is a large forest-dwelling pigeon found in Switzerland across the plateau in the north of the country, usually between 400 - 700m, but also up to 1400m in the Jura. It is found across Europe and in Switzerland in March and September numbers are increased as migrants move through. Birds ringed in Switzerland have found to move southwest into the Iberian peninsula. There is a story that the English name derives from a theory that it was the progenitor of the domestic pigeon - the "original stock", but more likely is the fact that it nests in holes in trees rather than building an open nest like many pigeons - so it likes the "stock" of the tree rather than the branches. In Switzerland it will utilise old Black Woodpecker holes. However, and in complete contrast it will also nest in rock crevices and even old rabbit burrows !

They are not as common as the Wood Pigeon and although smaller are similar in appearance. But in voice they are quite different. The Stock Dove has a low disyllabic “whoo-wup” which you could be forgiven for thinking it was an owl from a distance:

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But closer in, the full pronunciation is clear, they are shy birds though and hard to get close to:

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The sonogram is interesting as you can see that the features come from the wave-shape of the notes:


The song is normally delivered at this rather leisurely pace but I have heard it delivered with more urgency but cannot say why this happens:

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It is a little smaller than a Wood Pigeon but still a large bird and if you are close to it you can hear the wings give a loud whistling noise as they fly around over the canopy:

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