The Kennedy Wild Bird Food Guide to the Stock Dove

The stock dove, less commonly known by its scientific name Columba oenas, is a popular bird that is similar in size to the rock dove and city pigeon. In this guide, we look at all there is to know about this dove species, including how to spot a stock dove, what they like to eat and where exactly you can find them in the UK. Take a look!

What does the stock dove look like?

The stock dove is similar in appearance to many other dove birds, including the collared dove and most pigeons. It can be identified by its grey plumage and the bottle green patch on the back of its neck. They also have pale pink chests and black wing edges.

The stock dove is similar in size to the city pigeon, measuring around 30-33cm in length with a wingspan of 60-66cm.

stock dove guide

Image source: farcloser on Flickr

What does the stock dove sound like?

The stock dove makes a sound you might have heard before. Have a listen to the clip below to hear its song!

Stock dove food: what do they eat?

Stock doves love to eat a wide range of plant foods, including seeds and berries. They might also take grains and insects on occasion. For a healthy feeding routine, we recommend putting some mixed bird seeds out on your feeder for the stock pigeon and other garden birds in your area. They love to eat mixed seeds whatever the month!

Behaviour and habitat

The stock dove is a friendly bird that is known to socialise with other birds. You’ll often see them hanging around with wood pigeons near a food source. 

They are one of the scarcest European pigeon and doves which has led to their Amber UK conservation status. As they nest in tree cavities, their decline is largely due to deforestation across Europe. However, the stock dove has adapted somewhat and, since more and more trees are being destroyed, you’ll find the stock dove nesting in other areas such as rabbit burrows, ruins, old hedges and cracks in cliff edges.

Fun fact: the name stock dove originates from the English word “stocc” which means a stump or tree trunk. Stock dove, therefore, means something along the lines of “a dove that lives in hollow trees”.

Where to find them in the UK

Stock doves live all across the UK throughout the whole year. During the breeding season, you’ll find them in your local parkland and woodland areas, and they’ll visit your garden too if you put out a regular food source. During the cooler winter months, you’ll find smaller flocks of the stock dove on farmland looking for seeds to feed on. They are however absent in highland areas of Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Have you spotted a stock dove near you? Don’t forget to log it on our birdspotter map for others to see. We’ve got plenty of other wild birds on there, too, so you can find out what species live near you.