Pigeons

Black and Grey Birds on Wire during Daytime

Birds are a source of amusement for us. They fly in the atmosphere, have brighten colors that attract us towards them and they create varieties of sounds that make our environment beautiful. Birds have several adaptations that allow them to survive in various types of habitats. They are cosmopolitan and can also be beneficial to the human beings in a number of ways. Pigeon is one such bird which is not only amazing in its look but is also a symbol of peace. Pigeon belongs to the phylum Chordata and class Aves. There are approximately 300 species of passerines are known. In general talking the doves and pigeons are used together for describing any of the birds. Columbidae is present throughout the world but the significant species exist in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.

Pigeons possess stout bodies with short necks, having slender bills and fleshy cere. The typical species of pigeon generally available from the localities is the feral Rock Pigeon. Pigeons like to make their nests with the support of sticks and other debris which may be set on the trees, ground and on the areas of buildings based upon the species. Pigeons lay a couple of eggs at a time and the parents take part in caring the young ones that leave the nest after 7 to 28 days after their birth. Pigeons feed on seeds, fruits and plants. Like other birds pigeons also produce crop milk that’s secreted from the sloughing of fluid filled cells lining the harvest. Both males and females are able to produce the harvest milk to nourishing the young ones.

Morphology

Pigeons vary in body size according to the species. The biggest species of pigeons would be the crowned pigeons of New Guinea that are about the size of a turkey weighing approximately 2-4 kilograms. The smallest species are the ground doves of the genus Columbina which are almost equivalent to the size of the house sparrow and weighing about 22 grams. Taxonomically the smaller species are called as doves and the larger ones are called pigeons and there are no distinguishing features between the two. Pigeons have short bills and short legs. Head is also small with a compact body. Pigeons have big wings with strong wing muscles containing about 31-40percent of the total body weight. They are amongst the most powerful flying birds. The plumage of the family can also be variable. The species that feed on seeds are known as granivorous species and they’ve dull plumage while the species feeding on fruits are known as frugivorous and they’re brightly coloured. Pigeons may be sexually monochromatic or dichromatic. Apart from the bright colours pigeons also bear spotted patterns as well as other ornamentations. Pigeons lack gall bladder.

Pigeons are found all over the world except the Sahara desert, Antarctica, its surrounding islands and the high Arctic. The pigeon colonies can easily be found around the major oceanic islands such as Polynesia and Chatham islands in the Pacific, Mauritius, Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The pigeons have the ability to survive every type of habitat available in the world. The greatest number of species is found in the tropical forests and the woodlands where are accommodated to the arboreal, terrestrial and semi-terrestrial habitats. Pigeon species are also available in the temperate forests, savannas, grasslands, Orlando Animal Removal, deserts, mangrove forests and even the barren lands. Some species have long organic ranges also. The greatest range for any species of pigeon is that of the Rock pigeon. Rock pigeon species is naturally distributed from Britain and Ireland to northern Africa, across Europe, Arabia, Central Asia, India, the Himalayas and up into China and Mongolia. Domestication has a fantastic role in the spread of the species. Presently the species is located across major regions of North America, Japan and Australia. Some species have also changed their natural habitats because of the activities of human beings too.

Diet

Fruits and seeds are the major food components of pigeons. The family can be divided into the seed eating members or the granivorous species coming under the subfamily Columbinae and those which prefer to feed on the fruits or the frugivorous species forming the other four subfamilies. Granivorous species particularly feed on the seeds present on the floor and the frugivorous species feeding on fruits tend to feed on the trees. Both types of species have different morphological adaptations that can help in identifying the two. Gizzard walls are thick at the granivorous species while it’s thin in the frugivorous species. Frugivorous species have short intestines while the seed eating species have long intestines. Frugivores are capable of clinging on the branches to reach the fruits. Apart from fruits and seeds species also take other sort of materials also as a part of food. Some species especially the quail doves and ground doves also feed on insects and rats. Atoll Fruit dove is specialized for feeding on insects and reptiles as a part of its food. Some species such as the Orange dove, White crowned pigeons feed on snails, insects and moths.

Evolutionary Status

The fossil records for the pigeon family is also very limited and only one can predict that they evolved from parrot like birds on the basis of their feeding habits. The family is further classified into five subfamilies but this demarcation is inappropriate. The DNA sequencing of the members of the pigeon family also show variations among the members and provide the clue about the inappropriate classification of the family.

Pigeon and doves are consumed as food especially the more powerful breast muscles would be the perfect source of meat. They’re relished by the people across the planet. In Europe the Wood pigeon is the game bird and aids in earning a good amount of money. The Rock pigeon which is basically domesticated for meat is now available in different breeds today which improve its meat value. The Passenger pigeon is now extinct today as it was hunted by the humans because of its meat on greater scale. The pigeons have also played a major role during the World War I and the II as the pigeons were decorated with the Dickin Medal for those men and women who have contributed their lives for the war. Pigeons are also considered holy in the Bible since they are the symbols of Holy Ghost in the New Testament and were also used as offerings in the olden times of the Bible. They’re also used as the symbol of closing assistance of the prophet in the Islam.

Conservation

Pigeons and doves have benefited human beings since time immemorial. Some species have come on the verge of extinction because of immense shooting. Two species of pigeons including the Dodo and the Passenger pigeons have become extinct now because of mass shooting. About 59 species of pigeons and dove are under the category of endangered species. The Polynesian ground dove is an exceptionally critically endangered species. A variety of schemes are under progress to conserve endangered species from extinction.

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