Every city dweller in the whole wide world (yep, we're going there) is no doubt familiar with the good old pigeon. Not-so-affectionately dubbed 'rats with wings', pigeons are to cities what flies are to summer: they don't seem to serve any particular purpose, but they are friggin' everywhere.
EXCEPT when it comes to their young.
Seriously, have you ever seen a baby pigeon? (Or, while we're at it, a baby seagull?)
While adult pigeons are omnipresent, baby pigeons seem to be mysteriously absent from our city buildings, parks, train stations and other pigeon-hanging-out areas. And if they're not crowding around a European man feeding them crumbs or flapping past your head as you run to get the bus... where could they possibly be?
Unable to face another day with this mystery unsolved, The Huffington Post turned to Sean Dooley, editor of BirdLife Australia, to get the answers.
"As to why we don't see many baby pigeons or seagulls, we actually do see young ones but most people don't realise it," Dooley told HuffPost Australia.
"Pigeons (birders tend to call them Feral or Domestic Pigeons but their actual official name is Rock Dove) usually nest in out of the way, sheltered places like building ledges or inside the eaves of rooves. (Echoing the sea cliff ledges the ancestral Rock Doves use to build nests.)
"So we don't usually see the young pigeons (squabs) until they have fledged and are able to fly. At this stage, which is about 4-5 weeks after hatching, they are close to the size of the adults and apart from some vestiges of down and less iridescence in the neck feathers, they look quite similar."
And as for seagulls?
"The common seagull in Australia is the Silver Gull," Dooley said.
"In the past they have tended to breed away from human populations such as on nearby offshore islands. By the time the chicks are strong enough to fly back to the cities and beaches with their parents they are again the size of the adults and look much like the adults.
"The younger the bird, the more brownish spots or checks on the wings compared to the adults who have those clean, pearly grey wings. Immature Silver Gulls also have black beaks. The adults have red beaks though they are at their brightest red during breeding season and at other times can get a dark tip to the bill.
"In some cities, Silver Gulls are starting to nest on flat roofed buildings such as factories and warehouses, sometimes on the edge of the CBD so there is a chance we may start seeing much younger gulls more often in the future."
So there you have it folks.
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