IS THIS UN­USUAL MAT­ING?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

Q I’m at­tach­ing a photo taken on my mo­bile phone the other day at Port So­lent, Portsmouth. A dove and a pi­geon mated right in front of us. Is this un­usual, as I have never seen it hap­pen be­fore. Mavis El­liot, Water­looville

A This would seem to be an un­usual event. The bird on top ap­pears to be a Col­lared Dove, but it is hard to de­ter­mine what species the pi­geon be­low is, but it cer­tainly ap­pears to be one of the Columba species (Wood­pi­geon, Feral Pi­geon or Stock Dove), per­haps even a ju­ve­nile. Cross-species (and cross-genus) mat­ing is rather rarer in the wild than it is in cap­tiv­ity, where Col­lared Doves have been known to hy­bridise with do­mes­tic pi­geons. Among birds, this sort of be­hav­iour seems to be rel­a­tively com­mon in ducks, and in gulls. That be­ing said, Feral Pi­geons are so vari­able in plumage that there may be more Col­lared Dove, Wood­pi­geon or Stock Dove hy­brids around than may at first be ob­vi­ous. If any of our read­ers out there have ac­tu­ally seen ex­am­ples of cross-species mat­ing, we’d be very in­ter­ested to hear about them.

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