STOCK DOVE (Columba oenas)
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:
But closer in, the full pronunciation is clear, they are shy birds though and hard to get close to:
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:
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:
WOODPIGEON (Columba palumbus)
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:
(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!):
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:
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.
COLLARED DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
A common bird usually associated with human habitation - it is not difficult to see where the English vernacular name comes from ! However the origins of the species itself are from Asia - most likely India. Until the 1930's in Europe it was limited to the Balkans, whether it had been introduced there by man is not clear. But since then it has undergone an expansion of its range to the north and to the west, reaching Scandinavia in the 1960's, Iceland by the early '70s and Spain and Portugal in 1974.
Its call is a monotonous cooing - "coocoo,coo" - easy to remember as "no stew, cook", here is one in my village :
Like most of the family a low frequency call from 450 - 650 Hz with a distinctive downward slur on the "stew":
Because of the "coo-coo" nature of the call it is sometime mistaken for a cuckoo (by those who don't really know what a cuckoo sounds like !).
If you listen carefully the first two notes - "no stew" have a distinctive ring to them - this is because they are double notes. Below is a screen shot of the sonogram and there you can see that in each case there is an "A"note which is a brief precursor to the "B" note which is the main one you can hear, each pair delivered within a few milliseconds of each other - so even this boring little chap can get up to clever things !
TURTLE DOVE (Streptopelia turtur)
Tourterelle des bois
The Turtle Dove is reasonably common in Switzerland, mostly in mixed woodland below 800m, it does not seem to go into high ground. Its generally brown colouration, clearly marked black on the wings, red skin around an orange eye, and striped patch on the side of the neck identify it easily.
For maybe thousands of years Turtle Doves have been associated with pleasant things and it became the symbol of love lauded by many poets. They seem to form permanent pair bonds which is perhaps why. Many of these same poets refer to the call as a "moan" - a description I have some difficulty with as its call is really a cooing noise made in a very stridulating manner "kuurrrrrrrrrrrr, kurr, kurr" this phrase is repeated maybe 5-6 times, then a minute or so pause and repeated. Here are two cuts from the same bird, I have shortened the time between each sequence:
If you listen carefully the long initial "kuurrrrrrr" that starts each new phrase seems to be followed by a short grunt or swallowing noise, I guess this may be an intake of breath. This shows quite clearly in the sonogram and the stridulating manner of the sound production can also be clearly seen:
Like all pigeons it is a low frequency call between 450 - 650 Hz.