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Feral pigeons, also called city doves, city pigeons, or street pigeons, are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild rock dove. The rock dove naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. Rock, domestic, and feral pigeons are all the same species and will readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be substitute for sea cliffs. The have adapted to urban life, and are abundant in towns and cities throughout much of the world.
I based this painting on a scene I saw in downtown Melbourne, Florida. I had just had dinner and was taking an evening stroll to get some much needed exercise and fresh air. The sun was just beginning to set and the shadows were long. A large flock of pigeons were by the boat docks along the Indian river. Most of them seemed to be involved in courting rituals. Courtship rituals can be observed in urban parks at any time of the year. The male on the ground or rooftops puffs up the feathers on his neck to appear larger. This is to impress or attract attention. He approaches the hen at a rapid walking pace. At the same time, he emits repetitive quiet notes, often bowing and turning as he comes closer.
At first, the female invariably walks or flies a short distance away. The male follows her until she stops. At this point, he continues the bowing motion. He very often makes full or half pirouettes in front of the female The male then proceeds to feed the female by regurgitating food, as the do when feeding the young.
The male then mounts the female, rearing backwards to be able to join their cloacae. The mating is very brief with the male flapping his wings to maintain balance on top of the female.
Pairs are monogamous, often breeding in consecutive seasons for as long as both birds of a pair live.
Most will attempt to raise several broods each year. Sometimes as many as four or five broods will be raised in a single year.
The breeding season of these birds can be all year provided climate conditions allow. There seems to be some slowing down during the winter months.
I used acrylic paints on a 16 inch by 20 inch gessobord support.
October 14th, 2016
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