It’s a new craze called the Wood Pigeon. A mix of dance, mating ritual and artistic posturing it could catch on like a wildfire if this warm, dry weather continues. I witnessed a live performance this very morning, on a dry stone wall near the hamlet of Little Lepton in West Yorkshire. There, in public, were two healthy looking wood pigeons, unmistakable with their stone grey and subtle mauvey green undertones, white bars on wings and smudges on neck. One of them, the male, was approaching the female with short, rhythmical hops. It would walk towards her then hop, walk then hop. It wasn’t any ordinary hop but a meaningful determined mini-hop, meant to impress, gain a reaction. She backed off, a little bashful, but didn’t appear too put off at the male’s forwardness. In fact, she even responded with her own encouraging hops, turning this way then that. Then, in a move designed to hypnotise and lure, the male bowed deeply, raising his tail into the air whilst the white markings on his neck stood out. He did this four or five times, hopping and bowing with a serious yet wishful intent, – before we advanced and upset the whole show.
The pair flew off to a nearby sycamore and waited until the coast was clear before flying back down to resume their courtship ritual on those warm, misshapen stones.
Humble Columba palumbas, we love you.
Thanks to Andy Beecroft on Wikimedia Commons