Dove

Dove

Overview
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Columbidae within the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Columbiformes
Columbiformes
Columbiformes are an avian order that includes the very widespread and successful doves and pigeons, classified in the family Columbidae, and the extinct Dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire, long classified as a second family Raphidae. 313 species, found worldwide, comprise the Columbiformes order....

, which include some 300 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of near passerine
Near passerine
Near passerine or higher land-bird assemblage are terms often given to arboreal birds or those most often believed to be related to the true passerines due to ecological similarities; the group corresponds to some extent with the Anomalogonatae of Garrod All near passerines are land birds...

s. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common name
Common name
A common name of a taxon or organism is a name in general use within a community; it is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism...

s for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms "dove" and "pigeon." This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya
Indomalaya
The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet's land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia....

 and Australasia ecozone
Australasia ecozone
The Australasian zone is an ecological region that is coincident, but not synonymous , with the geographic region of Australasia...

s.
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Encyclopedia
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Columbidae within the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Columbiformes
Columbiformes
Columbiformes are an avian order that includes the very widespread and successful doves and pigeons, classified in the family Columbidae, and the extinct Dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire, long classified as a second family Raphidae. 313 species, found worldwide, comprise the Columbiformes order....

, which include some 300 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of near passerine
Near passerine
Near passerine or higher land-bird assemblage are terms often given to arboreal birds or those most often believed to be related to the true passerines due to ecological similarities; the group corresponds to some extent with the Anomalogonatae of Garrod All near passerines are land birds...

s. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common name
Common name
A common name of a taxon or organism is a name in general use within a community; it is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism...

s for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms "dove" and "pigeon." This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya
Indomalaya
The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet's land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia....

 and Australasia ecozone
Australasia ecozone
The Australasian zone is an ecological region that is coincident, but not synonymous , with the geographic region of Australasia...

s. Young doves and pigeons are called "squabs."

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and have short slender bills with a fleshy cere
Cère
The Cère is a long river in south-western France, left tributary of the Dordogne River. Its source is in the south-western Massif Central, near the mountain Plomb du Cantal...

. The species commonly referred to just as "pigeon" is the Feral Rock Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Feral pigeons , also called city doves, flying rats, city pigeons or street pigeons, are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild Rock Pigeon, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. All three types readily...

, common in many cities.

Doves and pigeons build relatively flimsy nests from sticks and other debris, which may be placed in trees, on ledges or on the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after 7 to 28 days. Doves feed on seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s, fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 and plants. Unlike most other birds (but see flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus , the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae...

), the doves and pigeons produce "crop milk
Crop milk
Crop milk is a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to young birds. They are found among all pigeons and doves where they are referred to as pigeon milk...

", which is secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop
Crop (anatomy)
A crop is a thin-walled expanded portion of the alimentary tract used for the storage of food prior to digestion that is found in many animals, including gastropods, earthworms, leeches, insects, birds, and even some dinosaurs.- Bees :Cropping is used by bees to temporarily store nectar of flowers...

. Both sexes produce this highly nutritious substance to feed to the young.

Morphology



Pigeons and doves exhibit considerable variations in size. The largest species are the crowned pigeons of New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, which are nearly turkey
Turkey (bird)
A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species...

-sized, at a weight of 2-4 kilograms (4.4-8.8 lbs.) The smallest are the New World ground-doves of the genus Columbina
Columbina (genus)
Columbina is a genus that contains seven species of small ground doves that live in the New World. Species in Columbina have ranges from the southern United States through Central America and much of South America. Columbina doves are normally found in pairs or small flocks. They generally occur in...

, which are the same size as a House Sparrow
House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. One of about 25 species in the genus Passer, the House Sparrow occurs naturally in most of Europe, the Mediterranean region, and much of Asia...

 and weigh as little as 22 grams. With a total length of more than 50 centimeters (19 in) and weight of almost a kilo (2 lb), the largest arboreal species is the Marquesan Imperial Pigeon
Marquesan Imperial Pigeon
The Marquesan Imperial Pigeon or Nukuhiva Pigeon is a pigeon which is endemic to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. This pigeon is only found in some valleys in the western part of that island...

, while the Dwarf Fruit Dove, which may measure as little as 13 centimeters (5.1 in), has a marginally smaller total length than any other species from this family. Smaller species tend to be known as doves, while larger species as pigeons, but there is no taxonomic basis for distinguishing between the two.

Overall, the Columbidae tend to have short bills and legs, small heads on large compact bodies. The wings are large and have low wing loadings; pigeons have strong wing muscles (wing muscles comprise 31–44% of their body weight) and are amongst the strongest fliers of all birds. They are also highly maneuverable in flight.

The plumage
Plumage
Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage vary between species and subspecies and can also vary between different age classes, sexes, and season. Within species there can also be a...

 of the family is variable. Granivorous species tend to have dull plumage, with a few exceptions, whereas the frugivorous species have brightly coloured plumage. The Ptilinopus fruit doves are some of the brightest coloured pigeons, with the three endemic species of Fiji and the Indian Ocean Alectroenas being amongst the brightest coloured. Pigeons and doves may be sexually monochromatic or dichromatic
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

. In addition to bright colours pigeons may sport crests or other ornamentation.

Like some other birds, the Columbidae have no gall bladder. Some medieval naturalists concluded that they have no gall
Bile
Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In many species, bile is stored in the gallbladder and upon eating is discharged into the duodenum...

, which in the medieval theory of the four humours
Four humours
Four Temperaments is a theory of proto-psychology that stems from the ancient medical concept of humorism and suggests that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors.- History and development :...

 explained the allegedly sweet disposition of doves. In fact, however, they do have gall (as Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 already realised), which is secreted directly into the gut.

Distribution and habitat



Pigeons and doves are distributed everywhere on Earth, except for the driest areas of the Sahara Desert, Antarctica and its surrounding islands and the high Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

. They have colonised most of the world's oceanic islands, reaching eastern Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

 and the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands are an archipelago and New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean consisting of about ten islands within a radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Their name in the indigenous language, Moriori, means Misty Sun...

 in the Pacific, Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

, the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 and Réunion
Réunion
Réunion is a French island with a population of about 800,000 located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about south west of Mauritius, the nearest island.Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France...

 in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, and the Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

 in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The family has adapted to most of the habitats available on the planet. The largest number of species are found in tropical forests and woodlands, where they may be arboreal, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial. Various species also inhabit savannas, grasslands, deserts, temperate woodlands and forests, mangrove forests, and even the barren sands and gravels of atolls.

Some species have large natural ranges. The Eared Dove
Eared Dove
The Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculata, is a New World tropical dove. It is a resident breeder throughout South America from Colombia to southern Argentina and Chile, and on the offshore islands from the Grenadines southwards. It may be a relatively recent colonist of Tobago and Trinidad...

 ranges across the entirety of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 from Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 to Tierra Del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

, the Eurasian Collared Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
The Eurasian Collared Dove most often simply called the Collared Dove, also sometimes hyphenated as Eurasian Collared-dove is a species of dove native to Asia and Europe, and also recently introduced in North America....

 has a massive (if discontinuous) distribution from Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 across Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and the Laughing Dove
Laughing Dove
The Laughing Dove is a small pigeon which is a resident breeding bird in the tropics in Africa south of the Sahara, the Middle East and southern Asia east to India. In India it is also known as the Little Brown Dove...

 across most of sub-Saharan Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 as well as India,Pakistan and the Middle-east. Other species have a tiny restricted distribution; this is most common in island endemics. The Whistling Dove
Whistling Dove
The Whistling Fruit Dove , also known as the Velvet Dove or Yellow-headed Dove, is a small fruit dove from Fiji...

 is endemic to the tiny Kadavu Island in Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, the Caroline Ground-dove is restricted to two islands, Truk and Pohnpei
Pohnpei
Not to be confused with Pompeii, the ancient city destroyed by Vesuvius in AD 79.Pohnpei "upon a stone altar " is the name of one of the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia , situated among the Senyavin Islands which are part of the larger Caroline Islands group...

 in the Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

 and the Grenada Dove
Grenada Dove
The Grenada Dove is a medium-sized New World tropical dove. It is endemic to the island of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. Originally known as the Pea Dove or Well's Dove, it is the National Bird of Grenada...

 is restricted to Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

 in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. Some continental species also have tiny distributions; for example the Black-banded Fruit Dove is restricted to a small area of the Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land
The Arnhem Land Region is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km² which also covers the area of Kakadu National...

 of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the Somali Pigeon
Somali Pigeon
The Somali Pigeon is a species of bird in the Columbidae family. It is endemic to Somalia.Its natural habitat is temperate grassland.-References:* BirdLife International 2008. . Downloaded on 25 May 2010....

 is restricted to a tiny area of northern Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, and Moreno's Ground Dove is restricted to the area around Salta
Salta
Salta is a city in northwestern Argentina and the capital city of the Salta Province. Along with its metropolitan area, it has a population of 464,678 inhabitants as of the , making it Argentina's eighth largest city.-Overview:...

 and Tucuman in northern Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

.


The largest range of any species is that of the Rock Dove. The species had a large natural distribution from Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 to northern Africa, across Europe, Arabia, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, India, the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 and up into China and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

. The range of the species increased dramatically upon domestication as the species went feral in cities around the world. The species is currently resident across most of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and has established itself in cities and urban areas in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. The species is not the only pigeon to have increased its range due to actions of man; several other species have become established outside of their natural range after escaping captivity
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

, and other species have increased their natural ranges due to habitat changes caused by human activities.

Diet



Seeds and fruit form the major component of the diet of pigeons and doves. In fact, the family can be divided into the seed eating or granivorous species (subfamily Columbinae) and the fruit eating or frugivorous species (the other four subfamilies). The granivorous typically feed on seed found on the ground, whereas the species that feed on fruit and mast tend to feed in trees. There are morphological adaptations that can be used to distinguish between the two groups, granivorous species tend to have thick walls in the gizzards, whereas the frugivores tend to have thin walls. In addition fruit eating species have short intestines whereas those that eat seeds have longer ones. Frugivores are capable of clinging to branches and even hang upside down to reach fruit.

In addition to fruit and seeds a number of other food items are taken by many species. Some species, particularly the ground-doves
Gallicolumba
Gallicolumba is a mid-sized genus of ground-dwelling doves which occur in rainforests on the Philippines, Indonesia, and in the Pacific region. They are not closely related to the American ground-doves...

 and quail-dove
Quail-dove
Geotrygon is a bird genus in the pigeon and dove family . Its members are called quail-doves and all live in the Neotropics. The 17 species of this genus have ranges from southern Mexico and Central America to the West Indies and South America. Quail-doves are ground-dwelling birds that live, nest,...

s take a large number of prey items such as insects and worms. One species, the Atoll Fruit Dove is specialised in taking insect and reptile prey. Snails, moths and other insects are taken by White-crowned Pigeon
White-crowned Pigeon
The White-crowned Pigeon is a species of bird in the family Columbidae . It inhabits the northern and central Caribbean islands and some places on the North and Central American mainland...

s, Orange Dove
Orange Dove
The Orange Fruit Dove , also known as Flame Dove, is a small, approximately 20 cm long, short-tailed fruit-dove in the family Columbidae. One of the most colorful doves, the male has a golden olive head and elongated bright orange "hair-like" body feathers...

s and Ruddy Ground Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove
The Ruddy Ground Dove is a small New World tropical dove. It is a resident breeder from Mexico south to Peru, Brazil and Paraguay, and northern Argentina, and on Trinidad and Tobago...

s.

Evolutionary speculations


This family is a highly coherent group with no members showing obvious links with other bird families, or vice versa. The dodo
Dodo
The dodo was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about , living on fruit, and nesting on the ground....

 and solitaires are clearly related, as discussed below, but equally lacking in obvious links with other bird families. The limited fossil record also consists only of unequivocal Columbidae species. Links to the sandgrouse
Sandgrouse
The sandgrouse are a family, Pteroclididae, of 16 bird species, the only living members of the order Pteroclidiformes. They are restricted to treeless open country in the Old World, such as plains and semi-deserts. They are distributed across northern, southern and eastern Africa as well as...

 and parrot
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s have been suggested, but resemblances to the first group are due to convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

and the second depend on the parrot-like features of the Tooth-billed Pigeon
Tooth-billed Pigeon
The Tooth-billed Pigeon also known as Samoan Pigeon, is a medium-sized, approximately 34 cm long, dark pigeon with reddish feet and bare skin around eye. The underparts, head and neck are blackish with a slight blue-green iridescence, and the tail, wings-coverts and tertials are chestnut,...

. However, the distinctive features of that bird seem to have arisen from its specialized diet rather than a real relationship to the parrots.

The family is usually divided into five subfamilies, but this is probably inaccurate. For example, the American ground and quail doves which are usually placed in the Columbinae seem to be two distinct subfamilies.
The order presented here follows Baptista et al. (1997) with some updates (Johnson & Clayton 2000, Johnson et al. 2001, Shapiro et al. 2002).

The arrangement of genera and naming of subfamilies is in some cases provisional because analysis of different DNA sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

s yield results that differ, often radically, in the placement of certain (mainly Indo-Australian) genera. This ambiguity, probably caused by long branch attraction
Long branch attraction
Long branch attraction is a phenomenon in phylogenetic analyses when rapidly evolving lineages are inferred to be closely related, regardless of their true evolutionary relationships. For example, in DNA sequence-based analyses, the problem arises when sequences from two lineages evolve rapidly...

, seems to confirm that the first pigeons evolved in the Australasian region, and that the "Treronidae" and allied forms (crowned and pheasant pigeons, for example) represent the earliest radiation of the group.

As the Dodo
Dodo
The dodo was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about , living on fruit, and nesting on the ground....

 and Rodrigues Solitaire
Rodrigues Solitaire
The Rodrigues Solitaire was a flightless member of the pigeon order endemic to Rodrigues, Mauritius. It was a close relative of the Dodo.-Discovery:...

 are in all likelihood part of the Indo-Australian radiation that produced the 3 small subfamilies mentioned above with the fruit doves and -pigeons (including the Nicobar Pigeon
Nicobar Pigeon
The Nicobar Pigeon, Caloenas nicobarica, is a pigeon found on small islands and in coastal regions from the Nicobar Islands, east through the Malay Archipelago, to the Solomons and Palau. It is the only living member of the genus Caloenas....

), they are here included as a subfamily Raphinae, pending better material evidence of their exact relationships.

Exacerbating these issues, columbids are not well represented in the fossil record. No truly primitive forms have been found to date. The genus Gerandia has been described from Early Miocene
Early Miocene
The Early Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene Epoch made up of two stages: the Aquitanian and Burdigalian stages....

 deposits of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, but while it was long believed to be a pigeon it is more likely a sandgrouse
Sandgrouse
The sandgrouse are a family, Pteroclididae, of 16 bird species, the only living members of the order Pteroclidiformes. They are restricted to treeless open country in the Old World, such as plains and semi-deserts. They are distributed across northern, southern and eastern Africa as well as...

. Fragmentary remains of a probably "ptilinopine" Early Miocene pigeon were found in the Bannockburn Formation of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and described as Rupephaps; "Columba" prattae from roughly contemporary deposits of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 is nowadays tentatively separated in Arenicolumba, but its distinctness from Patagioenas needs to be more firmly established. Apart from that, all other fossils belong to extant genera. For these, and for the considerable number of more recently extinct prehistoric species, see the respective genus accounts.

Genera


A list of all the species, sortable by common and scientific name, is at list of Columbidae species

Family Columbidae






  • Subfamily Columbinae – typical pigeons & doves
    • Genus Columba
      Columba (genus)
      The large bird genus Columba comprises a group of medium to large stout-bodied pigeons, often referred to as the typical pigeons. The terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used indiscriminately for smaller and larger Columbidae, respectively...

      including Aplopelia – Old World pigeons (33-34 living species, 2-3 recently extinct)
    • Genus Streptopelia
      Streptopelia
      Streptopelia is a genus of birds in the dove family. These are mainly slim, small to medium-sized species. The upperparts tend to be pale brown, and the underparts are often a shade of pink. Many have a characteristic black-and-white patch on the neck, and monotonous cooing songs.The heartland of...

      including Stigmatopelia and Nesoenas – turtledoves (14-18 living species)
    • Genus Patagioenas
      Patagioenas
      Patagioenas is a genus of New World pigeons whose distinctness from the genus Columba was long disputed but ultimately confirmed. It is basal to the Columba-Streptopelia radiation. Their ancestors diverged from that lineage probably over 8 million years ago...

      – American pigeons; formerly in Columba (17 species)
    • Genus Ectopistes – Passenger Pigeon; formerly Leptotilinae (extinct; 1914)
    • Genus Macropygia
      Macropygia
      Macropygia is a genus of bird in the pigeon and dove family Columbidae. The genus is one of three genera known as cuckoo-doves. They are long tailed, range between 27–45 cm in length and have brown plumage...

      (10 species)
    • Genus Reinwardtoena
      Reinwardtoena
      Reinwardtoena is a small genus of doves. It includes 3 species.* Great Cuckoo-Dove, Reinwardtoena reinwardtii* Pied Cuckoo-Dove, Reinwardtoena browni* Crested Cuckoo-Dove, Reinwardtoena crassirostris...

      (3 species)
    • Genus Turacoena
      Turacoena
      Turacoena is a small genus of doves. It includes just 2 species.* White-faced Cuckoo-Dove, Turacoena manadensis* Black Dove, Turacoena modesta...

      (2 species)

  • Subfamily N.N. – Bronzewings and relatives
    • Genus Turtur
      Turtur
      Turtur is a small genus of Doves native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It includes 5 species:* Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur chalcospilos* Black-billed Wood Dove, Turtur abyssinicus* Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur afer...

      – African wood-doves (5 species; tentatively placed here)
    • Genus Oena
      Namaqua Dove
      The Namaqua Dove is a small pigeon. It is the only species in the genus Oena. .-Description:The Namaqua Dove is a tiny sparrow-sized pigeon, typically 22 cm in length with a 28–33 cm wingspan, and weighing 40g. It has a very long black tapered tail, and the size and shape have led to...

      – Namaqua Dove (tentatively placed here)
    • Genus Chalcophaps
      Chalcophaps
      Chalcophaps is a small genus of Doves. It includes just two species.-Species:* Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica** Christmas Island Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica natalis* Stephan's Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps stephani...

      (2 species)
    • Genus Henicophaps
      Henicophaps
      Henicophaps is a small genus of doves. It includes just two species.* New Guinea Bronzewing, Henicophaps albifrons* New Britain Bronzewing, Henicophaps foersteri...

      (2 species)
    • Genus Phaps
      Phaps
      Phaps is a small genus of bronzewing pigeons. It includes 3 species.* Common Bronzewing, Phaps chalcoptera* Brush Bronzewing, Phaps elegans* Flock Bronzewing, Phaps histrionica...

      (3 species)
    • Genus Ocyphaps
      Crested Pigeon
      The Crested Pigeon is a bird found widely throughout mainland Australia except for far tropical north areas. It is the only member of the genus Ocyphaps.There are only two Australian pigeon species that possess an erect crest, being the Crested Pigeon and the Spinifex Pigeon...

      – Crested Pigeon
    • Genus Geophaps
      Geophaps
      Geophaps is a small genus of doves. It includes just 3 species.* Spinifex Pigeon, Geophaps plumifera* Squatter Pigeon, Geophaps scripta* Partridge Pigeon, Geophaps smithii...

      (3 species)
    • Genus Petrophassa
      Petrophassa
      Petrophassa, commonly known as the rock pigeons, is a small genus of doves native to Australia, and similar to bronzewing pigeons. It includes 2 species:* Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Petrophassa rufipennis...

      – rock-pigeons (2 species)
    • Genus Geopelia
      Geopelia
      Geopelia is a genus of small, long-tailed doves. They are native to South-east Asia and Australasia and are most often found in open country and scrubland. They feed mainly on seeds which they find by foraging on the ground. They typically lay two eggs in a simple nest of twigs and grass. Their...

      (3–5 species)

  • Subfamily Leptotilinae – Zenaidine and quail-doves
    • Genus Zenaida
      Zenaida Doves
      The Zenaida doves make up a small genus of American doves. There are 7 species:* White-winged Dove, Zenaida asiatica* West Peruvian Dove, Zenaida meloda* Zenaida Dove, Zenaida aurita...

      (7 species)
    • Genus Leptotila
      Leptotila
      Leptotila is a genus of birds in the Columbidae family.It contains the following species:* L. verreauxi Bonaparte, 1855 - White-tipped Dove* L. megalura Sclater & Salvin, 1879 - Yungas Dove...

      (11 species)
    • Genus Geotrygon
      Quail-dove
      Geotrygon is a bird genus in the pigeon and dove family . Its members are called quail-doves and all live in the Neotropics. The 17 species of this genus have ranges from southern Mexico and Central America to the West Indies and South America. Quail-doves are ground-dwelling birds that live, nest,...

      – quail-doves (16 species)
    • Genus Starnoenas
      Blue-headed Quail-dove
      The Blue-headed Quail-Dove is a species of bird in the Columbidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Starnoenas. It is endemic to Cuba. Its natural habitats are swamps and moist forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.-References:* BirdLife International 2006. . Downloaded on 24 July...

      – Blue-headed Quail-Dove

  • Subfamily Columbininae – American ground doves
    • Genus Columbina
      Columbina (genus)
      Columbina is a genus that contains seven species of small ground doves that live in the New World. Species in Columbina have ranges from the southern United States through Central America and much of South America. Columbina doves are normally found in pairs or small flocks. They generally occur in...

      (7 species)
    • Genus Claravis
      Claravis (genus)
      Claravis is a genus that contains three species of ground doves that live in the Neotropics, with ranges in Central America and South America. Claravis doves have red eyes and pink legs, and the plumages of the males are primarily light grey-blue, and the females are primarily brown. Both sexes...

      (3 species)
    • Genus Metriopelia
      Metriopelia
      Metriopelia is a genus of ground doves containing four species that live in the dry, upland habitats along the Andean mountain chain in South America...

      (4 species)
    • Genus Scardafella – possibly belongs into Columbina (2 species)
    • Genus Uropelia – Long-tailed Ground Dove

  • Subfamily N.N. – Indopacific ground doves
    • Genus Gallicolumba
      Gallicolumba
      Gallicolumba is a mid-sized genus of ground-dwelling doves which occur in rainforests on the Philippines, Indonesia, and in the Pacific region. They are not closely related to the American ground-doves...

      (16-17 living species, 3-4 recently extinct)
    • Genus Trugon – Thick-billed Ground Pigeon

  • Subfamily Otidiphabinae – Pheasant Pigeon
    • Genus Otidiphaps
      Pheasant Pigeon
      The Pheasant Pigeon is a large terrestrial pigeon found in the primary rainforests of New Guinea and nearby islands. It ranges primarily over hilly and lower mountain areas, but can also be found in lowlands....

      – Pheasant Pigeon

  • Subfamily Didunculinae – Tooth-billed Pigeon
    • Genus Didunculus
      Tooth-billed Pigeon
      The Tooth-billed Pigeon also known as Samoan Pigeon, is a medium-sized, approximately 34 cm long, dark pigeon with reddish feet and bare skin around eye. The underparts, head and neck are blackish with a slight blue-green iridescence, and the tail, wings-coverts and tertials are chestnut,...

      – Tooth-billed Pigeon

  • Subfamily Gourinae – crowned pigeons
    • Genus Goura
      Goura (genus)
      The genus Goura consists of three species of crowned pigeons. They are the largest non-extinct members of the pigeon family. The three crowned pigeons are alike and replace each other geographically. The genus was described by James Francis Stephens in 1819.The phylogeny of the crowned pigeons is...

      (3 species)

  • Subfamily N.N. ("Treroninae") – green and fruit doves and imperial pigeons
    • Genus Ducula – imperial-pigeons (36 species)
    • Genus Lopholaimus
      Topknot Pigeon
      The Topknot Pigeon is a pigeon native to Australia. It is also known by the name of "Flock Pigeon".-Description:...

      – Topknot Pigeon
    • Genus Hemiphaga
      Hemiphaga
      Hemiphaga is the genus containing two large species of pigeons from New Zealand. The two are traditionally considered conspecific, but in 2001 it was proposed that chathamensis should be considered a separate species instead of a subspecies of H. novaeseelandiae...

      (2 species)
    • Genus Cryptophaps
      Sombre Pigeon
      The Sombre Pigeon is a species of bird in the Columbidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Cryptophaps. It is endemic to Indonesia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montanes....

      – Sombre Pigeon
    • Genus Gymnophaps – mountain-pigeons (3 species)
    • Genus Ptilinopus – fruit doves (some 50 living species, 1-2 recently extinct)
    • Genus Natunaornis
      Viti Levu Giant Pigeon
      The Viti Levu Giant Pigeon was a flightless pigeon, only slightly smaller than the dodo and Rodrigues solitaire ....

      – Viti Levu Giant Pigeon (prehistoric
      Late Quaternary prehistoric birds
      Prehistoric birds are various taxa of birds that became extinct before recorded history, or more precisely, before they could be studied alive by bird scientists...

      )
    • Genus Drepanoptila
      Cloven-feathered Dove
      The Cloven-feathered Dove is a species of bird in the Columbidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Drepanoptila.It is endemic to New Caledonia....

      – Cloven-feathered Dove
    • Genus Alectroenas
      Blue Pigeon
      Alectroenas is a genus of birds in the Columbidae family.It contains the following species:* Madagascar Blue Pigeon * Comoro Blue Pigeon * Mauritius Blue Pigeon †...

      – blue pigeons (3 living species)

  • Subfamily Raphinae – didines
    • Genus Raphus
      Dodo
      The dodo was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about , living on fruit, and nesting on the ground....

      – Dodo (extinct; late 17th century)
    • Genus Pezophaps
      Rodrigues Solitaire
      The Rodrigues Solitaire was a flightless member of the pigeon order endemic to Rodrigues, Mauritius. It was a close relative of the Dodo.-Discovery:...

      – Rodrigues Solitaire (extinct; c.1730)

  • Placement unresolved
    • Genus Caloenas
      Caloenas
      Caloenas is a genus of pigeons. The only living species is the Nicobar Pigeon .One or two extinct species are known: Caloenas canacorum was a large species from New Caledonia and Tonga. It is only known by subfossil remains and was probably hunted to extinction by the early settlers...

      – Nicobar Pigeon
    • Genus Treron
      Green pigeon
      Treron is a genus of bird in the pigeon family Columbidae. The genus is distributed across Asia and Africa. This genus contains 23 species, remarkable for their green coloration, which comes from a carotenoid pigment in their diet. Green pigeons have diets of various fruit, nuts, and/or seeds....

      – green pigeons (23 species)
    • Genus Phapitreron
      Brown Dove
      Brown doves are members of the genus Phapitreron in the pigeon family. Their common name refers to their overall brown colouration. They are endemic to the Philippines. All brown doves are tree-dwellers, but the different species occupy different types of wooded habitats; some are more restricted...

      – brown doves (3 species)
    • Genus Leucosarcia
      Wonga Pigeon
      The Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia melanoleuca is a pigeon that inhabits areas in eastern Australia with its range being from Central Queensland to Gippsland, eastern Victoria, Australia....

      – Wonga Pigeon
    • Genus Microgoura
      Choiseul Crested Pigeon
      The Choiseul Crested Pigeon is a presumedly extinct pigeon which was only known on the Solomon island of Choiseul in the Pacific. This species was first described by Walter Rothschild in 1904 and named in honour of Albert Stewart Meek. The Choiseul islanders called that species kukuru-ni-lua which...

      – Choiseul Crested Pigeon (extinct; early 20th century)
    • Genus DysmoropeliaSaint Helena
      Saint Helena
      Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

       Dove (extinct)
    • Genus Bountyphaps
      Henderson Archaic Pigeon
      The Henderson Archaic Pigeon , or Henderson Island Archaic Pigeon, is an extinct bird in the Columbidae, or pigeon family...

      - Henderson Island Archaic Pigeon (prehistoric
      Late Quaternary prehistoric birds
      Prehistoric birds are various taxa of birds that became extinct before recorded history, or more precisely, before they could be studied alive by bird scientists...

      )



As food



Several species of pigeon and dove are used as food, and probably any could be; the powerful breast muscles characteristic of the family make excellent meat. In Europe the Wood Pigeon is commonly shot as a game bird, while Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae . In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon"....

s were originally domesticated as a food species, and many breeds were developed for their meat-bearing qualities. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton. It was originally entitled "Beeton's Book of Household Management", in line with the other guide-books published by Beeton.Previously published as a part...

 contains recipes for roast pigeon and pigeon pie
Pigeon pie
Pigeon pie is a a traditional French savory game pie made of pigeon meat and various other ingredients. It has been eaten at least as early as 1670.In Morocco it is called Bastila....

, a popular inexpensive food in Victorian industrial Britain.

The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon
Passenger Pigeon
The Passenger Pigeon or Wild Pigeon was a bird, now extinct, that existed in North America and lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century...

 was at least partly due to shooting for use as food. According to the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, doves are kosher, and they are the only birds that may be used for a korban
Korban
The term offering as found in the Hebrew Bible in relation to the worship of Ancient Israel is mainly represented by the Hebrew noun korban whether for an animal or other offering...

. Other kosher birds may be eaten, but not brought as a korban.

Military


The pigeon has contributed to both World War I and II, notably by the Australian, French, German, American
United States Army Pigeon Service
The United States Army Pigeon Service was a unit of the United States Army during World War I and World War II...

, and UK forces. 32 Pigeons have been decorated with the Dickin Medal
Dickin Medal
The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in war. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown and pale blue...

 for war contributions, including Commando, G.I. Joe, Paddy, and William of Orange.

A grand ceremony was held in Buckingham Palace to commemorate a platoon of pigeons that braved the battlefields of Normandy to deliver vital plans to Allied forces on the fringes of Germany. Three of the actual birds that received the medals are on show in the London Military Museum so that well wishers can pay their respects.

Domestication


The Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae . In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon"....

 has been domesticated for hundreds of years. It has been bred into several varieties kept by hobbyists, of which the best known is the homing pigeon
Homing pigeon
The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon derived from the Rock Pigeon selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate...

 or racing homer
Racing Homer
A Racing Homer is a breed of pigeon that has been selectively bred for more speed, and enhanced homing instinct for the sport of Pigeon racing. A popular domestic pigeon breed, the Racing Homer is also one of the newest.-Development:...

. Other popular breeds are tumbling pigeons such as the Birmingham Roller
Birmingham Roller
The Birmingham Roller is a very popular breed of domesticated pigeon that originated in Birmingham, England, where they were developed via selective breeding, for their ability to do rapid backward somersaults while flying. As the name suggests and as also mentioned by Wendell Levi in his book The...

 and fancy varieties that are bred for certain physical characteristics, such as large feathers on the feet or fan-shaped tails. Domesticated Rock Pigeons are also bred as Carrier pigeons
Carrier pigeon
A carrier pigeon is a homing pigeon that is used to carry messages. Using pigeons to carry messages is generally called "pigeon post". Most homing or racing type varieties are used to carry messages. There is no specific breed actually called "carrier pigeon"...

, used for thousands of years to carry brief written messages, and Release Dove
Release Dove
A release dove refers to any breed of domestic pigeon used for ceremonial release. Release doves are often used to commemorate important milestones of life and offerings of hope at weddings and birthdays and as representing the soul's final journey at funerals...

s used in ceremonies.

In religion



In the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, doves or young pigeons are acceptable burnt offerings for those who can't afford a more expensive animal. In the book of Genesis, Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 sent out a dove after the great flood in order to determine how far the floodwaters had receded. Dove is also a term of endearment in the Song of Songs
Song of songs
Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It may also refer to:In music:* Song of songs , the debut album by David and the Giants* A generic term for medleysPlays...

 and elsewhere.

Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

's parents sacrifice doves on his behalf after his circumcision (Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 2:24). Later the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 descended upon Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 at his baptism
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 like a dove (Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 3:16), and subsequently the "peace dove" became a common Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit.

In Islam, doves and the pigeon clan in general are respected and favoured because they are believed to have assisted the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, in distracting his enemies outside the cave of Thaw'r in the great Hijra
Hijra (Islam)
The Hijra is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. Alternate spellings of this Arabic word are Hijrah, Hijrat or Hegira, the latter following the spelling rules of Latin.- Hijra of Muhammad :In September 622, warned of a plot to...

.

Threats and conservation


While many species of pigeons and doves have benefited from human activities and have increased their ranges, many other species have declined in numbers and some have become threatened or even succumbed to extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

. Amongst the 10 species that have become extinct since 1600 (the conventional date for estimating modern extinctions) are two of the most famous extinct species, the Dodo
Dodo
The dodo was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about , living on fruit, and nesting on the ground....

 and the Passenger Pigeon
Passenger Pigeon
The Passenger Pigeon or Wild Pigeon was a bird, now extinct, that existed in North America and lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century...

. The Passenger Pigeon was exceptional for a number of reasons, along with being the only pigeon species to have gone extinct in modern times that was not an island species. It was once the most numerous species of bird on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. Its former numbers are difficult to estimate but one ornithologist, Alexander Wilson
Alexander Wilson
Alexander Wilson was a Scottish-American poet, ornithologist, naturalist, and illustrator.Wilson was born in Paisley, Scotland, the son of an illiterate distiller. In 1779 he was apprenticed as a weaver. His main interest at this time was in writing poetry...

, estimated that one flock he observed contained over two billion birds. The decline of the species was abrupt; in 1871 a breeding colony was estimated to contain over a hundred million birds, yet the last individual in the species was dead by 1914. Although habitat loss was a contributing factor, the species is thought to have been massively overhunted, being used as food for slaves and, later, the poor in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 throughout the 19th century.

The Dodo, and its extinction, was more typical of the extinctions of pigeons in the past. Like many species that colonize remote islands with few predators it lost much of its anti-predator behaviour
Island tameness
Island tameness is the tendency of many populations and species of animals living on isolated islands to lose their wariness of potential predators, particularly of large animals. The term is partly synonymous with ecological naïvete, which also has a wider meaning referring to the loss of...

, along with its ability to fly. The arrival of people, along with a suite of other introduced species
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

 such as rats, pigs and cats, quickly spelt the end for this species and all the other island forms that have become extinct.

Around 59 species of pigeon and dove are threatened with extinction today, this is 19% of all species. Most of these are tropical and live on islands. All of the species threatened today are threatened by introduced predators, habitat loss and hunting, or a combination of these factors. In some cases they may be extinct in the wild
Extinct in the Wild
Extinct in the Wild is a conservation status assigned to species or lower taxa, the only known living members of which are being kept in captivity or as a naturalized population outside its historic range.-Examples:...

, as is the Socorro Dove
Socorro Dove
The Socorro Dove is a dove that is extinct in the wild. It was endemic to Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Islands off the west coast of Mexico. The last sighting in its natural habitat was in 1972. There are not more than 200 and probably fewer than 100 purebred birds in captivity...

 of Socorro Island
Socorro Island
Socorro Island is a small volcanic island in the Revillagigedo Islands, a Mexican possession lying some 600 kilometers off the country's western coast at 18°48'N, 110°59'W. The size is 16.5 by 11.5 km, with an area of 132 km².- Geology :...

, Mexico, which was driven to the extinction by habitat loss and introduced feral cat
Feral cat
A feral cat is a descendant of a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats are born in the wild; the offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild.In many parts of...

s. In some areas a lack of knowledge means that the true status of a species is unknown; the Negros Fruit Dove has not been seen since 1953 and may or may not be extinct, and the Polynesian Ground Dove is classified as critically endangered
Critically endangered
Version 2010.3 of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 3744 Critically Endangered species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and subpopulations.Critically Endangered by kingdom:*1993 Animalia*2 Fungi*1745 Plantae*4 Protista-References:...

 as it is unknown whether it survives or not on remote islands in the far west of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

.

Various conservation
Conservation biology
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

 techniques are employed to prevent these extinctions. These include laws and regulations to control hunting pressure, the establishment of protected areas to prevent further habitat loss, the establishment of captive populations for reintroduction back into the wild (ex situ conservation) and the translocation of individuals to suitable habitat to create additional populations.

See also


  • Alphabetical species list
  • Gamasoidosis
    Gamasoidosis
    Gamasoidosis is a cutaneous condition that occurs after contact with canaries, pigeons, and poultry, caused by two genera of mites, including Ornithonyssus and Dermanyssus....

  • War pigeon
    War pigeon
    Pigeons have long played an important role in war. Due to their homing ability, speed, and altitude, they were often used as military messengers. After World War II, they ceased being used.- Nineteenth century :...

  • Peace dove
  • Pigeon control
  • Doves as symbols
    Doves as symbols
    Doves, usually white in color, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves appear in the symbology of Judaism and Christianity and of both military and pacifist groups.-Peace symbol:...



External links