Rock Pigeon – adult feeding crop milk to 4 juveniles

posted in: Feeding chicks, Fledgling-Fledging | 0

“I was privileged to watch adult Rock Pigeon(s) (Columba livia) feed crop milk to juveniles. What was unusual was that 4 juveniles were trying to get fed by one adult.

“The usual clutch for Rock Pigeons is 2 (Wells 1999); some authorities say 1-3 (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). It is also recognised that both partners feed juveniles and also suggested that adults are monogamous. So 4 juveniles competing for feeds by one adult at the same time is rather unusual.

“I only observed 3 episodes of feeding over 25 minutes before I had to leave. Only one adult came to feed the juvenile birds at a time. They were situated on an elevated rocky surface.

“The juvenile birds had all fledged but were of slightly different maturity; some developing adult plumage. The adult was being mobbed by the hungry juveniles and had a hard time feeding them (see images above).

“After watching this I have more questions than answers:
1. My observation period was limited, but why a single adult feeding 4 juveniles? Or was feeding here opportunistic by other juveniles?
2. Was this the same adult (or pair of adults) feeding the 4 juveniles or is there communal feeding once juveniles have fledged?
3. Could one pair of adults died/been caught and another set taken over feeding their young and added to their brood?
4. Is this a ‘staging area’ where juveniles are safely ‘housed’ while adult go to forage and return to feed them?

“Also note (above) that the juveniles were hungry enough to try and get crop milk from each other.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
13th December 2015

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Limestone hills (Buddhist temples) at the edge of the city

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