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The Stock Dove or Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas) is a species of bird in the Columba genus in the Columbidae family. It is a member of the family Columbidae, doves and pigeons.
Stock pigeon is a member of the bird family Columbidae, doves and pigeons. The genus Columba is the largest within the pigeon family, and has the widest distribution. Its members are typically pale grey or brown, often with white head or neck markings or iridescent green or purple patches on the neck and breast. The neck feathers may be stiffened and aligned to form grooves, absent in this species. Stock pigeon is lesser gray plumage pigeon in Europe. It is also, the rarest of the wild European pigeons. The three western European Columba pigeons, though superficially alike, have very distinctive characteristics. The Wood Pigeon may be readily distinguished by the white on its neck (in adults) and wings. The Rock Pigeon and Stock Dove are more alike in size and plumage, but wild specimens of the former have a white rump and two well-marked dark bars on the wing, while the rump of the Stock Dove is grey and its wing bars incomplete. The feral pigeon (the same species as Rock Pigeon) is highly variable, and indistinctly marked grey specimens with the white rump missing can sometimes resemble the Stock Dove quite closely. The Stock Dove is sociable as well as gregarious, often consorting with Wood Pigeons, though doubtless it is the presence of food which brings them together. The short, deep, "grunting" Ooo-uu-ooh call is quite distinct from the modulated cooing notes of the Wood Pigeon; it is loud enough to be described, somewhat fancifully, as "roaring".
Stock Dove is a tree hole nesting species which is in sharp decline, from habitat loss combined with hunting pressure. In part of its European and western Asiatic range the Stock Dove is a migrant. There has been a sharp decline in France (- 57% in 1976), although the species is not considered threatened in Europe, although it is classified in Schedule 2 to the Birds Directive and Annex III the Berne Convention the number of wintering birds in France would be 100 000 to 200 000 Stock Doves. The nest is usually in a hole in an old tree. Before deforestation, the Stock Dove was the most frequent pigeon, nesting mostly in oak or pine wood, but as it usually nests in cavities in trees it was normally only found in old forests. In plantations there are not as many holes to nest in, so it is scarcer. In addition, as the Stock Dove is double brooded, a second hole is required for the second brood. They have even been found to nest in rabbit burrows, ruins with cavities large enough to host nesting and old poplar hedges which have numerous cavities for nesting, and in cracks in crag or cliff faces, in ivy, or in the thick growth round the boles of common lime (linden) trees. It will also use nest boxes. Typical inhabitant of extensive agricultural land, the nest hole to nest must be around 75 cm in depth, and the entrance hole should be large enough to permit the passage of the fist. The Stock Dove needs a hole for every incubation. Though nesting material is seldom used, the squabs leave the hole very oily. Stock Doves prefer to nest close together. Outwith the breeding season Stock Doves roost in cavities too. The habitats of the Stock Dove are in more or less open country, for though it often nests in trees it prefers parklands to thick woods. It is also common on coasts where the cliffs provide holes. Its flight is quick, performed by regular beats, with an occasional sharp flick of the wings, characteristic of pigeons in general. It perches well, and in nuptial display walks along a horizontal branch with swelled neck, lowered wings, and fanned tail. During the circling spring flight the wings are smartly cracked like a whip. Most of its food is plant material; young shoots and seedlings are favoured, and it will take grain as well as insects and snails. In some areas it feeds mostly on acorns and pine seeds with a large proportion of shoots, leaves, insects, small snails and other mollucs. It feeds on a variety of foods including seeds, acorns, berries, bay berries, hawthorn berries, figs, cereal grains, beans, peas, and small invertebrates that obtained while walking on the floor. During autumn migration in October, Stock Doves stop over at places with an abundance of acorns, supplementing the diet with shoots and leaves.
The common name Stock Dove has caused some confusion about the origins of this bird. The modern usage of the word "stock" might imply that the bird has been tamed and kept as stock for food and merchandise, leading to the belief that this bird is a hybrid breed with its origins in human aviaries; however this is not the case. The word "Stock" in the common name of this species refers not to the stock of trade, but comes from the Old English "stocc" meaning "stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log,". Therefore, "Stock Dove" means "a dove which lives in hollow trees". Such hollow trees near human settlements would often be taken and used as wood stock for firewood, hence the name.