Spotlight on... Woodpigeon

Wandering woodpigeons

Woodpigeons (Columba palumbus) are one of the most familiar birds in the British countryside and urban areas.  It is unsurprising then that they are thought to be the UK’s most numerous bird species with an estimated 5 million breeding pairs.  However, what may not be so widely known is that woodpigeons are partly migratory.  Each year the BTO runs a migration watch programme where the number of woodpigeons (and other birds) is recorded moving around Britain.  Early November is the peak time for Woodpigeon migration when hundreds of thousands of pigeons are recorded migrating in the skies over Britain.  It is a bit of a mystery as to where they are going; they travel south to the coast, often as far as Dorset where they then seem to disappear.  There are currently two hypotheses.  First, they may be British birds heading south and west for the relatively mild conditions in the UK.  Second, they may be British birds heading south to France and Spain to spend the winter in southern oak woods.  Recent sightings of thousands of birds over Jersey tends to support the latter hypothesis.

Where is woodpigeon?

According to our database, woodpigeons found all over Berkshire and Oxfordshire. However, our database only includes information which people have provided to us (and we have collected), so a lack of records doesn’t mean that woodpigeons aren’t present in the area. All it means is that no-one has told TVERC they’ve spotted them... yet!

Have you seen any woodpigeons?

If you spot any wildlife when you’re out and about, share your records and photos with TVERC. By letting TVERC know what you have seen you will help protect and improve your local environment by increasing the quality and quantity of data we hold.

Absence records are also very useful, so also let us know if you’ve been out and haven’t seen anything!

Your records can inform a variety of exciting biodiversity projects and help people make informed decisions about how to develop and manage land sustainably. We are a ‘not for profit’ organisation so rely on valuable help from skilled volunteers to improve our database.

Identification help

The woodpigeon is easily distinguished from the similar dove and common pigeon by its larger size, white neck patch and white wing patches area, clearly seen during flight.

Their cooing call is easily recognisable (

Find out more

Check out the BTO website for more information about migrating woodpigeons or the RSPB website for more information on woodpigeons in general.

Where should we direct our spotlight next?

If you are a recorder, a local recording group or just have an interest in a species, send us your suggestion for a species, along with some facts and a photo (if possible) to