Rock Doves

To: "'Daryl King'" <>, "'Sue-Ellen and Ray'" <>
Subject: Rock Doves
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2012 13:54:33 +1000
Interesting comment from Daryl, it sort of described the mechanics, indeed I have seen the behaviours modelled very nicely on a computer. I suspect though, that the answer to Ray's question is what Martin sent. The habit of flocks flying circuits is one of domesticated birds homing or learning the environment around their lofts. Feral pigeons will do flocking behaviour but generally not in coordinated groups flying in a circuit. In short, the behaviour through Lyneham is likely not a feral feature. I have always advocated against include counts of such birds in the GBS.
 Is it possible that your suburb is graced with a pigeon racer who lets his flock out  for some exercise?

-----Original Message-----From: Daryl King [ Sent: Saturday, 18 August 2012 10:12 AM      To: Sue-Ellen and Ray
Cc:       Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Rock Doves

This question was addressed in a very nice paper in Nature a couple of years ago.  (Nagy, M., Akos, Z., Biro, D., and Vicsek, T. (2010). Hierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks. Nature 464: 890-893).

Apparently there is a strict social hierarchy of leaders and followers within pigeon flocks by which movement of the group is coordinated.  Behavioural change by just a few individual leaders is sufficient to initiate change in the whole group, allowing extremely rapid collective manouvers to be made. The average spatial position of an individual within the flock correlates with its place in the leader/ follower hierarchy, birds higher in the hierarchy are more influential in determining the direction of the flock’s movement, and changes in direction by leaders are copied by followers in a fraction of a second.  Presumably a similar mechanism operates in Starling, Budgeriagar, etc flocks


On 18/08/2012 8:38 AM, Sue-Ellen and Ray wrote:
Good morning all – An issue that has intrigued me for some time now is the habit of these birds to congregate in large groups adopting a circular (roughly) flight path within a relatively narrow bandwidth which continues for what seems to be a long time. I have noted this occurs at about the same time each day as I do my morning stroll through Lyneham.
Could anyone throw any light on this characteristic of the maligned feral pigeon which now carries the much more respected name of Rock Dove.
Ray Comer
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