Pigeon is a French word taken from the Latin pipio, which 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 birds that includes doves and pigeons. It is the only family found in the Columbiformes Order.
Approximately, 250 species of 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".
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:
A variety of pigeon breeds, for 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 most frequently rescue and end up taking in at Paloma.
King Pigeons: King Pigeons are produced for food (squab). They are bigger than both wild and homing pigeons. With pink beaks, they are pure white. Such pigeons are often purchased by some individuals and they simply release them from live animal markets. This task is done to protect them and save them. Unfortunately, they do not have adequate flight or survival skills, hence the King Pigeons often get attacked by the predators.
Racing and Homing Pigeons: Homing pigeons may have several 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.
In suburban or urban settings, the majority of the pigeons you'll find are feral rock pigeons. And those are the popular blue type of pigeons that nest in 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.
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 can 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 can 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-around objectives, 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 image. The pigeon is one of those few species to have such an ability.
Pigeons are incredibly smart and can 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.
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 pigeons or the production of pigeons to improve 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:
Utility Pigeons: Some breeds were bred specifically for meat. The example of the same may include 'French Mondain' and the 'King'.
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.
Homer Pigeons (Homing Pigeons): As the name suggests, this group of pigeons were 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’.
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.
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.
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.
Frills and Owls: With their stunted beaks and their remarkable chest feathers, this class of pigeons are bred. The 'Oriental Frill', 'Old German Owl', and the 'Aachen Lacquer Shield Owl' are involved in this category.
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.
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 extremely sociable creatures. In flocks of 20-30 birds, they can sometimes be seen.
Pigeons mate throughout their lifespan and also in all seasons. At the same time, they raise chicks.
Pigeons are extremely sophisticated and clever creatures. They are one of only a few species that can pass the mirror test,' which is a self-recognition test. They can also recognize each letter of the human alphabet, discriminate between images, and identify between various persons within a photograph.
Pigeons are well-known for their exceptional navigation skills. They employ a variety of techniques, such as utilizing the sun as a guide and an internal magnetic compass.' According to Oxford University research, they will also use landmarks as signposts and will drive along man-made roads and highways, even changing directions at intersections.
Pigeons can fly to altitudes of up to and beyond 6000 feet and at a speed of 77.6 miles per hour on average. The fastest recorded speed of a pigeon is 92.5 miles per hour.
For thousands of years, pigeons and humans have existed together. The first recordings of this date back to 3000bc in Mesopotamia, current Iraq.
How do Pigeons Sleep?
Pigeons, like humans, like power naps to recharge their batteries during the day. Furthermore, they sleep in an unusual manner. They just hide their heads inside the feathers of their necks and wings. They can accomplish this feat because they are extremely adaptable.
They might, however, be relaxing or partially asleep. As a result, you can not determine if the pigeon is sleeping or not. Here's an even more fascinating truth. Pigeons can sleep with one eye open. This is due to the way their brain operates. Their brain's two hemispheres have the power to shut down one side of their body while keeping the other attentive.
This sleeping style or pattern does have a name, and it is known as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep.
That is not all about pigeons and their sleeping skills. These birds practically never go without sleep. This is due to their ability to sleep deeper when necessary without really sleeping for a longer period of time.
Finally, a pigeon's talons may grip onto a perch or a branch as it sleeps. This is because they have an instinctive grasp reflex. These birds are certainly endowed with incredible sleeping abilities!'
We all know that pigeons are interesting creatures. The next time you see a pigeon with its head tucked in, remember that it is sleeping. Or it might be half-asleep and you would not know.