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What is a Pigeon?

Pigeon is a French word taken from the Latin pipio, which basically means "peeping" chick. Pigeon bird is short-necked and stout-bodied birds carrying short slender bills which feature fleshy ceres in certain species. They feed mainly on seeds, herbs, and fruits. The family of such birds exists worldwide, but in the Indomalayan and Australasian realms, the greatest diversity is observed. Columbidae is a family of the birds which includes doves and pigeons. It is the only family found in the Columbiformes Order.


Approximately, 250 species or pigeon bird are reported amongst which two-thirds are found in Australia, tropical Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific islands. Further, in Africa and South America, the family has several other members, and some in North America and temperate Eurasia. Instead of sipping and swallowing like other birds, all the species of this family suck liquids, as well as all pigeon parents serve their little 'pigeon's milk,' the sloughed-off lining of the seed. The development of pigeon's milk is induced by the hormone named prolactin. Through poking the bill down the parent's throat, the nestling acquires this "milk".


Pigeon Lifespan:

The average pigeon lifespan is observed to be six years. Depending on many factors, like human intervention and natural predation, it ranges widely such that it might lie up to 3-5 years or may reach 15 years.


Types of Pigeons:

Different types of pigeons are mentioned below:


1. Domestic Pigeons

A variety of pigeon breeds, for the purpose of sport, hobby and food, are bred domestically. While these domestic pigeons are born in the wild inadvertently or purposely, they could not care for themselves in the way a wild pigeon can. Domestic pigeons are the pigeons that we at most frequently rescue and end up taking in at Palomacy.

  • King Pigeons: King Pigeons are produced for the purpose of food (squab). They are bigger than both wild and homing pigeons. With pink beaks, they are pure white in colour. Such pigeons are often purchased by some individuals and they simply release them from live animal markets. This task is done in order to protect them and save them. Unfortunately, they do not have an adequate flight or survival skills, hence the King Pigeons often get attacked by the predators. 

  • Racing and Homing Pigeons: Homing pigeons may have a number of colours, yet are usually blue or white (just as the wild pigeons). Such pigeons are competitively raced, included in "doves" for weddings and other activities, or served as pets. Racing pigeons are muscular and efficient flyers along with powerful homing instincts. After a race or case, they are conditioned to return to their lofts.

  • Fancy Pigeons: Fancy Pigeons are unique breeds maintained by hobbyists and fanciers of pigeons. In competitions, some hobbyists exhibit their pigeons, like dog shows. Just like personal birds, people keep fancy pigeons too. There are several fancy pigeon breeds, namely Pouters, Owls, and Tumblers.

2. Feral Pigeons

In suburban or urban settings, the majority of the pigeons you'll find are the feral rock pigeons. And those are the popular blue type of pigeons that nest on specific regions of the buildings and forage the public plazas for food. Moreover, they also nest in outbuildings in the countryside or around bridges or the natural mountain areas.


Feral pigeons often undergo the process of cross-breeding with domestic pigeons, carrying on differences in colour and plumage over generations. Cities, rural areas and suburbs are well suited to the Feral pigeons. Wild pigeons should usually be left alone to let them live as wild birds, except if you encounter a wounded feral pigeon or an abandoned infant.


3. Band-Tailed Pigeons

Wild pigeons local to the Pacific Coast and North America are the Band-tailed Pigeons. As the name speaks, they are elongated, with grey banded tails. Additionally, they carry a white band along with an iridescent patch at the neck's nape. Such pigeons have bright yellow beaks and feet and are between 14 to 18 inches in length. The Band-tailed pigeons show no kind of variations in colour as rock pigeons. Such pigeons reside on the outskirts of the forest and in forests, both coniferous and deciduous. They tend to spend a great amount of time in the woods. One of their favourite foods is acorns. However, based on the environment and time of year, they often scavenge for grains, berries, mast-producing plants as well as other available resources.


Pigeon Food Habits

The main component of the pigeon food habits is seeds, and it also varies greatly between the species. Many types of ground feeding (granivorous species) consume fruit, insects and other worms. The Atoll Fruit Dove, one species, has adapted to the capture of insects and small reptiles.


Characteristics of Pigeon

The characteristics of pigeon are as follows:

  • Pigeons have the ability to fly at higher altitudes of limit up to 6000 feet or above.

  • Pigeons can fly up to 77.6 mph at average speeds, but flying at 92.5 mph has been observed.

  • In a single day, pigeons could travel about 600 and 700 miles, with the highest single flight taking 55 days between Africa and England in the 19th century and covering 7000 miles.

  • Through experiencing the magnetic field of the earth and then using the sun for guidance, pigeons are believed to navigate. In an attempt to discover their way back home, other hypotheses include the use of roads and sometimes even low-frequency seismic waves.

  • Pigeons (and all the family of columbidae) drink water using their beaks like straws. The majority of birds drink water and throw their head right in place to swallow.

  • Like humans, pigeons have the ability to see colour. Moreover, they can also see ultraviolet light, another section of the spectrum that humans could not see. As a consequence, because of this unique feeling coupled with exceptional all-round objective, pigeons have been used in search and rescue operations at sea.

  • It was found that pigeons passed the 'mirror test,' the ability to recognize in a mirror their own image. The pigeon is one of those few species to have such an ability.

  • Pigeons are incredibly smart and have the ability to identify and conceptualize all 26 letters of the alphabet. In a single photograph, pigeons can distinguish between photos and even two separate human beings.

The Pigeon as a Messenger:

  • The pigeon is potentially the best intended to manage the return from long distances to 'home' and it has now been used widely as a carrier or exchange for the messages throughout history, stretching back to 2500 BC and lasting into the 21st century.

  • According to the records, the first historical pigeon that was used to carry messages was in the city of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia in 2500 BC. Two doves were unveiled by the leader of the city to bear the information of the city's relief of its warring neighbours.

  • Since 772 BC, pigeons have been assumed to already be bred in China. Further, Salvador Bofarull notified that Indian and Arab merchants utilized carrier pigeons.

  • A few hundred years later, sources were provided to encourage the use of pigeons to deliver messages tied to their legs. Every athlete competing in the first Olympic Games, held in 776 BC, carried a homing pigeon from his town. If he achieved a medal in his event, then the bird would bring the news to his home.

Pigeon Breeds

There are other types of Columbidae family usually present in the UK - collared dove or ring-necked dove (Streptopelia decaocto), wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), stock dove (Columba oenas) and turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur).


Fancy Breeds of Pigeons:

It is assumed that about pigeons or production of pigeons for the purpose of improving the size, form, colour or behaviour began over 3000 years ago, but there is no historical evidence of early breeding. 

The classification of fancy breeds is complicated, but eight different headings can be loosely defined:

  1. Utility Pigeons: There are breeds which were bred specifically for meat. The example of the same may include 'French Mondain' and the 'King'.

  2. Flying Tumblers and Highfliers: This category of fancy pigeons comprises birds bred for demonstration purposes, and that could also be used for their acrobatic ability in flying competitions. The 'Tumbler', the 'Tippler' and the 'Roller' are included in this category.

  3. Homer Pigeons (Homing Pigeons): As the name suggests, this group of pigeons was bred for their homing abilities but also includes racing birds bred specifically for showing. The group includes the ‘English Carrier’, the ‘Dragoon’ and the ‘German Beauty Homer’.

  4. Voice Pigeons and Asian Feather: This group was formed for extreme feathering and their tone of laughter or 'talking up'. The well-known 'Trumpeter', the 'Fantail' and the 'Jacobin' comprise the party.

  5. Colour Pigeons: This category consists of several distinct fancy pigeon varieties selectively bred towards their colour and markings. The 'Swallow' 'Archangel', and 'Danish Suabian' are examples.

  6. Exhibition Tumblers: Initially, several members of this group underwent the breeding process for their acrobatic skills, but they have been mated to such a degree that they are now known as merely display birds. The 'Nun', the 'Magpie' and the 'English Short Faced Tumbler' are included in this category.

  7. Frills and Owls: With their stunted beaks and their remarkable chest feathers, this class of the pigeons are bred. The 'Oriental Frill', 'Old German Owl', and the 'Aachen Lacquer Shield Owl' are involved in this category.

  8. Pouters and Croppers: Exclusively for their potential to inflate their crop with air, this group of fancy pigeons are bred. The 'English Pouter', 'Pigmy Pouter' and ' Norwich Cropper' are included in the category.

Pigeon Facts:

Some of the pigeon facts have been stated below:

  • Pigeons have exceptional listening skills. At much lower frequencies, unlike humans, they can sense sounds and therefore hear distant storms and volcanoes.

  • Pigeons are generally very healthy and clean creatures, regarding the social stereotype of being filthy and disease-ridden, and there is very little evidence to indicate that they are major transmitters of disease.

  • Pigeons are creatures which are extremely sociable. In flocks of 20-30 birds, they can sometimes be seen.

  • Pigeons mate throughout their lifespan and also in all the seasons. At the same time, they raise chicks.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Where Does Pigeon Bird Generally Live?

Ans. In every part of the planet, except the North and South Poles, the pigeons are found. They began out as pets, but have evolved into maybe the most common feral bird through accidental or deliberate release. They actually like the places that carry a lot of grain, such as farms, specifically when these birds are close to areas with good nesting sites such as cliffs or houses.


About Pigeons, once referred to as rock doves, live wherever there are enough food and water and are abundant in most cities and suburbs. Stadiums, parks and bridges, fast-food restaurants, airports, and schools are all prominent environments for pigeons. Although the feed intake of pigeons in the garden appears harmless, it certainly adds to the development of urban pest epidemic. Pigeon predators (hawks, cats, and falcons) are very few and the birds thrive, destroying several regions.

Q2. What Do We Call a Baby Pigeon?

Ans. The baby pigeon is called a squab. The squab, in the life of pigeon, is a young domestic pigeon, usually below 4 weeks of age, or its meat. The beef is commonly characterized as dark chicken-like tasting. The expression is possible of Scandinavian origin; "loose, fat flesh" means the Swedish word skvabb. The flesh pigeons and doves of game birds hunted mainly for sport are usually called squab. Since the early 1900s, squabs were widely produced in North America. Since 1986, production capacity per year has been one and a half million squabs in the United States and Canada.

Q3. What is the Scientific Name of a Pigeon?

Ans. The scientific name of the pigeon is Columbidae. Columbidae is a family of birds which includes doves and pigeons. In the Order Columbiformes, this is the only family. These are all short-necked, stout-bodied species with small thin bills showing fleshy ceres in some species. They mainly feed on fruits, seeds, and plants.

Q4. Give the General Classification of Pigeon.

Ans. The general classification of pigeon is given below:


Class

Aves 

Order

Columbiformes

Family

Columbidae

Genus

Columba Linnaeus