Columbiformes facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Columbiformes
Temporal range: Early Miocene
Spotted Dove
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Infraclass: Neognathae
Order: Columbiformes
Latham, 1790
Families

Columbidae

  • Raphidae

The pigeons and doves are some 300 species of near passerine birds in the order Columbiformes. The terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used interchangeably, although smaller species are more likely to be called doves.

The species commonly referred to just as the "pigeon" is the feral Rock Pigeon.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

The usually flimsy nests are made of sticks, and the two white eggs are incubated by both sexes. Doves feed on seeds, fruit and other soft plant-stuff.

This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. It is related to the extinct dodo. The young doves and pigeons are called "squabs". A person who keeps pigeons is called a "pigeon fancier".

Symbolism

  • White doves, usually meaning domesticated Rock Pigeons, are a traditional Christian and Jewish symbol of love and peace. According to the biblical story, a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive branch, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land. A dove with an olive branch has since then come to symbolize peace. In Christian iconography, a dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove at the Baptism of Jesus.
  • Doves or other birds are sometimes released at Christian weddings. It should be noted that these birds, unless they are trained homing pigeons, cannot survive in the wild and will either starve to death or be easy prey for predators.
  • Doves are often associated with the concept of peace and pacifism. They often appear in political cartoons, on banners and signs at events promoting peace (such as the Olympic games, at various anti-war/anti-violence protests, etc.), and in pacifist literature. A person who is a pacifist is sometimes referred to as a dove (similarly, in American politics, a person who advocates the use of military resources as opposed to diplomacy can be referred to as a hawk).
  • Ironically, although sometimes ungratefully considered "pests" in big cities, common pigeons or Rock Pigeons have served humans in times of war as war pigeons, and have even been awarded war medals to honour their services to humanity. These include the carrier pigeons, Cher Ami, who received the French Croix de guerre for services during wartime, and who is now enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution, and G.I. Joe, who received the Dickin Medal for his role in preventing the bombing of an Italian village of over 1,000 people.

Doves as food

Fried pigeon with nasi timbel (banana leaf wrapped rice), tempeh, tofu and vegetables, Sundanese cuisine, Indonesia

Several species of pigeon or dove are used as food. In Europe the Wood Pigeon is commonly shot as a game bird, while Rock Pigeons were originally domesticated as a food species, and many breeds were developed for their meat-bearing qualities. The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon was at least partly due to shooting for use as food.


Trivia

  • Doves can be trained and often are utilized in tricks and animal acts by magicians and showmen.
  • Dove is a brand of American ice cream; their "Dove Bar", featuring a vanilla ice cream filling with a thin chocolate coating, is particularly well known.
  • A "pigeon" is an English slang word to refer to an uneducated, naive, or unsophisticated person: one that is easily deceived or cheated by underhanded means. To be referred to as a "pigeon" or a "dupe" suggests unwariness in the person deluded — especially used in the slang language of gambling. Etymology: from Middle French duppe.
  • Pigeons are sometimes referred to as "sky rats" in some parts of the northeastern United States.

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Columbiformes Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.