Today, rock pigeons are common in cities around the world. Originally, they were cliff-dwelling birds with a natural range from western and southern Europe through northern Africa to southwestern Asia. The earliest record of their domestication dates back to at least 5,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean, making rock pigeons the world’s oldest domesticated bird. They were the main bird eaten in Europe and the Middle East for many years. Due to their good homing ability, they were also used to send messages over long distances. European settlers first brought domesticated rock pigeons to North America in the early 1600s. All feral rock pigeons in North America are the result of escaped domestic birds.