Sometimes considered conspecific with P. italiae and P. hispaniolensis. Hybridizes with former (itself a hybrid form: see below) in N Italy and with latter in SE Europe (Balkans), NW Africa, and Cape Verde Is (on São Vicente, where introduced), and evidently with P. castanopterus in Ethiopia and Somalia#R; hybrids with P. montanus regularly reported, particularly where one of the two species rare. Races form two groups, “domesticus group” and “indicus group”, these intergrading where ranges meet. Migratory race bactrianus of “indicus group”, and hence indicus itself, considered by some authorities worthy of full species rank, largely on grounds that it does not interbreed with resident nominate race (which has spread to C Asia in the last century) as well as differences in morphology and ecology; this, however, seems unsustainable as indicus intergrades with persicus, clearly a member of “domesticus group”; lack of interbreeding seems more probably a temporal than a genetic effect. In North America (introduced), birds from W USA described as race plecticus, supposedly paler than nominate, but differences apparently clinal; proposed race maroccanus (from Morocco) synonymized with tingitanus. Nomenclature of introduced populations problematic, as many have differentiated sufficiently to be subspecifically separated from the parent stock; this certainly the case in North America, and also in S Africa (where some populations derived from introduction of indicus from India that have interbred with smaller number of nominate from Europe), and will become an increasing problem as other introduced populations diverge. Twelve subspecies recognized.
Introduced (mainly nominate race and, in South Africa, indicus) in most other inhabited parts of the world, including the Americas and Australasia.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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