The local flock sitting on the roof, waiting for the sun to rise in the morning,
Their leisure times, having a bath...
...or enjoying the sun on a cold day
Charles Darwin extensively bred many domestic pigeon breeds and dedicated a sizeable section of the first chapter of the Origin of Species to domestic pigeons. He used them to illustrate how domestication had generated distinct races through breeding together animals with certain preferred variations, producing a wide array of diverse shapes, colours, plumages, flight ability and voice from the original ancestral species, the wild Rock Dove. He stressed that this "selection by man" was essentially the same mechanism that his "natural selection".
Male pigeons court females by cooing and bowing to them while walking alongside her with puffed feathers, inflated necks and fanned tails, pirouetting occasionally. The courting male, on the left, is also showing his white rump patch.
A quick copulation may ensue...
All feral pigeons perform the same evasive roll during predation by falcons. The protective white patch may disguise the initiation of the pigeon’s evasive roll by contrasting conspicuous (white patch) and cryptic targets (grey wings and body). A fast flying falcon primed to a conspicuous target centered on the roll might fail to detect the dodge initiated by the cryptic wings as the predator closes from behind.
I wonder who ate this squab? Sorry if you are squeamish!Never underestimate pigeons. They have been found to outperform university students in a range of probability calculation tests (see this post for an example). According to Walter T. Herbranson and Julia Schroeder:
Pigeons might not possess the cognitive framework for a classical probability-based analysis of a complicated problem [...], but it is certainly not far-fetched to suppose that pigeons can accumulate empirical probabilities by observing the outcomes of numerous trials and adjusting their subsequent behavior accordingly.Update: see this post on pigeon convergence
Herbranson, W. & Schroeder, J. (2010). Are birds smarter than mathematicians? Pigeons (Columba livia) perform optimally on a version of the Monty Hall Dilemma. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 124 (1), 1-13 DOI: 10.1037/a0017703
Palleroni, A., Miller, C., Hauser, M. & Marler, P. (2005). Predation: Prey plumage adaptation against falcon attack Nature, 434 (7036), 973-974 DOI: 10.1038/434973b