Country diary: male wood pigeon has one thing on his mind


Crook, County Durham: With hopping, strutting and wide parabolic flights across the garden, this male is going to great lengths to win over a disdainful consort

If their plumage was gaudy, if they lived deep in tropical jungles, then the family life of wood pigeons would be the subject of a TV documentary. It was dawn in early February, and the cooing outside my window was a sign that breeding, not just feeding, occupied the mind of the resident male wood pigeon. Heavy snowfall soon cooled his ardour, but after the thaw his courtship routine began.

First, wide parabolic flights across the garden, sometimes with wing clapping, like pistol shots. Then, hopping and strutting, pigeon-chested, bowing until his beak touched the roof tiles, pursuing a disdainful consort. Eventually, she too thawed. Once he captured her attention, I could watch his pièce de résistance, performed in the lime tree at the end of the garden.

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