WOODPIGEON (Columba palumbus)

Pigeon ramier

Common in mostly broadleaved woodlands and below 1000m this bird can be found in even the smallest group of trees in Switzerland. Easily recognised by its pink breast, bluish head and white streak on the neck. It is also an easy species to remember because the song is a soft coo-ing instruction to "take twooo cows Taffy, take twooo cows Taffy", repeated several times and more often than not finishing on the word "take" - see what I mean:

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(That was a White Wagtail dancing around in front of me whilst making that recording).

This is a very low frequency call with most of the sound energy only ranging between 400 and 600 Hz:

 

 

Although soft, the call can actually carry a long way which is a feature of low frequency sound - I was quite close to the bird on that last one. But if  you can get close to them you can also hear another call that they make, a sort of low churring or grunting noise - this can go on for quite a long time and is almost as though they are winding themselves up to give the full song as usually it develops into that - but it is a very low and very gentle noise. In this next recording, so that you can clearly hear  the sound I mean, I have edited using an equalizer to remove traffic noise and also all the other species singing at higher frequencies during a dawn chorus in May (I also shortened the rather long boring run up to the full song!):

 
 

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You only hear this if you are pretty close to the bird, and that can be difficult as I find they usually take off if they learn you are creeping up on them, I assume that this is because they have been hunted for so many years as they make nice eating. There is lots of good meat on a pigeon, a lot of it in the form of their large pectoral (breast) muscles, these make them fast powerful fliers (hence used for carrying messages before email was invented) and so their wings are something else worth listening out for:

 
 

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There were 3-4 birds displaying to each other in that last piece whilst a Song Thrush sang on ignoring whatever was going on. The Woodpigeon also has a display flight where it rises up clapping its wings together noisily before gliding back down again, but I have yet to get a good recording of that.

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