We present to you 50 interesting and surprising facts about doves.
You certainly haven’t heard these facts about doves before. Doves are not as simple as they seem.
Interesting facts about doves
- Since time immemorial, the dove has been considered a bird of peace. It is depicted as a monument in more than 30 cities around the world.
- These are the first birds domesticated by humans. The relationship of mankind with pigeons dates back to the dawn of civilization and probably even earlier.
- Tame pigeons, also known as stone pigeons, were first depicted in pictographic writing on clay tablets in the Mesopotamian period, dating back over 5000 years.
- There are over 300 species of these birds on the entire planet Earth. They live in every part of the world except, of course, the coldest areas, but most pigeons also live in the tropics.
- The doves have been domesticated long ago. When pigeons were domesticated, they were first adapted for the post office because pigeons are very hardy. They were constantly used as postmen over long distances.
- Famous historical figures such as Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, and others used them to deliver messages.
- In the 11th-12th centuries, the pigeon had the same value as a thoroughbred stallion, because there were no mail or phones at that time.
- Just in ancient times, this bird was a totem animal and a cult object – the patron saint of a man. In Australia, it only patronized women, and men teased the ladies with the carcass of a dead pigeon to annoy them.
- The cities were dedicated to the birds. The most famous of them was Babylon. Legend has it that the Queen of Semiramis turned into a dove at some point.
- Christians also consider these creatures to be God’s birds. In the old days, they were placed in the graves of martyrs as a symbol of resurrection.
- The structure of the body of the dove is quite interesting: its short but firm legs carry a plump body and a small head. The feathers of these birds are hard but smooth. An adult has about 10,000 feathers. The structure of the plumage can invite a strong airflow during flight.
- Pigeons have different feathers that perform different functions. Some types of doves have feathers of special unusual shape, they help them to fly at very slow speeds.
- Other types have other feathers that make special sounds in flight. The most interesting thing is that they communicate through these “melodies”.
- The most important plumage is found in pigeons on their wings and their tail, the fly and helmsman feathers respectively. And another important point: for “insulation”, the pigeons have a layer of thin fatty tissue hidden under the same feathers.
- Doves see the world in a kaleidoscope of colors. They are known to have extraordinary vision and can distinguish almost identical shades of color. Humans, for example, have a triple system of color perception, while pigeons’ photosensors and light filters can distinguish up to five spectral bands, making the world a virtual kaleidoscope of colors for them.
- Females and males of most pigeon species are similar to each other, but males are larger and smarter.
- And some rare species, such as the crowned and Asian fruit pigeon, occupy a leading position among the most beautiful birds on the planet. They are the ones with the brightest signs on the front of their bodies.
- Doves can use their markings to attract helpers or intimidate other breeders of the same species that threaten them or their territory.
- The dove was a symbol of resurrection. In Russia murder of a pigeon was cruelly punished as it was considered that the souls of dead people were moved to pigeons.
- It is interesting that small pigeons somehow hatch strictly till noon, and females lay eggs right after three o’clock in the afternoon.
- The walls of the goat during the feeding period of the chicks emit the legendary bird’s milk, which looks more like sour cream.
- The chicks eat in this way: lean their cranberries against Mom Dad’s beak and lick the milk.
- The day after birth, the chicks weigh twice as much as at birth. About a week later, parents put softened seeds in their baby’s diet, and ten days later, female pigeons stop feeding, but more restless dads spoil their chicks for a few more days.
- By the way, sports doves show better results just after ten days.
- The street doves are a little different than the others. They fill their stomachs to the limit, and when there is no room left, the food goes straight to the goiter, which consists of the left and right parts. First, the left side is filled and then the right side is opened. This feature makes them look like hamsters in some way.
- There is an amazing view of these birds that stands out from the rest, called Birmingham Rollers. They can do flips right on the flight, not even once, but a whole series of them.
- Scientists can not yet explain why they do such tricks, but many breeders say that rollers just like such actions.
- There’s another similar breed in nature called a saloon roller. These birds also like to flip, but they only do it on the ground because they can’t fly.
- Dove feathers come in different colors depending on the species: white, gray, black, multi-colored.
- In ancient Egypt, for example, pigeons not only acted as postmen but were also eaten.
- Nicola Tesla loved doves, and he was a genius. In addition to his research in electricity, the famous eccentric inventor had a strong obsession with pigeons. He was known to go to the park daily to feed them, and even took them home when he found the wounded.
- And one white bird, in particular, won the love of Tesla more than the others and stayed with him as a friend and pet until her death.
- Why aren’t many pigeons sitting in trees? On poles, cornices, and roofs of buildings, on the ground, on curbs, and even on a man – please, as much as you like. But somehow these city birds ignore the branches of trees, what are the reasons for this behavior?
- It can be explained by the fact that the natural habitat of our urban doves, the wild ancestors of our urban doves, is rocky mountains. They are homes on the rocks, and concrete buildings and bridges are a suitable alternative for them. In the wild, doves make nests on high rocky cliffs. Tall buildings remind pigeons of natural nesting places.
- There are species of pigeons that have a home on trees: wahiris in Europe, green pigeons in Africa, many species of doves, and in the tropics.
- The fact is that doves can sit on trees, but the problem is that there are more buildings than trees in the city. Also, buildings provide a safer place to nest, while trees are often victims of rain and wind. Why pigeons do not nest on trees can be called a common adaptation to change, although it may have caused evolution. But there seem to be quite a few possible reasons for that.
- The possible reasons why doves do not sit on trees are as follows: in ancient times people used pigeons to send messages through letters. The message was tied to their feet or back and they just flew back to their house.
- There is little possibility that they may have lost muscle strength in their legs during evolution and thus cannot capture branches.
- There was this wonderful view: a wandering pigeon. Unfortunately, the last of its kind died in 1914. It was all the fault of the Americans, who thought the meat of the birds of this genus was madly delicious, and they started the “pigeon genocide”. American citizens exterminated wandering pigeons: salted in barrels and shipped to numerous shops in the country.
- Then, of course, the zoologists grabbed up, but it was too late: Martha’s last pigeon died before her date.
- Picasso also admired pigeons and even named his daughter Paloma after them, which means “dove” in Spanish.
- As a regular on the street scene, artist Pablo Picasso clearly took great inspiration from the birds at his feet. Pigeons are a frequent subject in his work.
- In the last century, people brought out many meat species of pigeons, they are considered a delicacy in many countries of the world. The pigeon is almost 6 times more nutritious and fatty than chicken, and three days before birds are fed with juniper berries and dill seeds, thanks to these maneuvers the meat acquires a special flavor.
- In the past centuries, dove meat was the main dish in almost all peasant families.
- And in Russia at imperial cooks and masters of noble families even there was a certain point: all, in general, have started to invent every possible food from pigeons as in a meat pigeon contains only 49% H2O, and it six nutritious and more nourishing than chicken. Three days before serving, Russian cooks fed the pigeon with juniper berries and dill seeds, so the “pigeon” dishes had this flavor.
- Now dove meat is mainly popular in European cuisines: in France, Slovakia, Czech Republic. There are whole mechanized enclosures for 100,000 of these birds. A pair of pigeons bring 10-14 chicks each, so the business is very profitable.
- The pigeons are also raised for sporting events. The sporting pigeon overtakes the swiftest bird in terms of speed. Sporty Pigeon has a speed of 2 km/minute!
- DNA researchers say the pigeon is the closest living relative of the now-extinct nonflying Dodo bird.
- Modern doves in cities are not as afraid of humans as the real wild, and they have adapted to urban life.
- Today, about 260 million doves live in almost every city in the world, living and interacting with humans perhaps more than any other animal on the planet.
Doves are considered sacred birds in many religions. It is a symbol of peace, marital fidelity, and love. Pigeon hunting is a centuries-old hobby of the Russian people. “Pigeon hunting” is a popular pastime of many famous people. In our time, pigeons are used for aerial photography. They are used to deliver secret information on chips or for blood donations. This article contains interesting and little-known facts about these birds.
Pigeons in religion and myths
According to the Christian religion, God’s spirit hovered over the water in the form of a dove. The bird is a symbol of resurrection, an attribute of St. Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles. It is believed that an unclean spirit cannot turn into a dove.
The story of Gilgamesh first tells of a dove that found land after the flood about 5,000 years ago. Then a similar story is described in the Bible, namely the story of Noah and his ark. In Islam, the dove is considered a holy bird because it brought Muhammad water for ablutions.
According to some legends in ancient Greece, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, hatched from the egg of a dove. The dove is also the symbol of Isis and Astarte (Ishtar). In honor of the goddess, Venus in Syria built pigeon houses, which were called columbariums. And in Japan, pigeons symbolize respect and longevity.
Babylon was called the city of pigeons. Queen Semiramis of Babylon was hatched from a dove’s egg, and at the end of her reign, she turned into a dove and flew into the sky. It is believed that pigeons pointed to the place where Venice was founded.
In Russia, it was forbidden to hunt these birds, because people believed that the souls of the dead moved into them. Until now, pigeons are often fed near cemeteries.
If pigeons fly near the house, in which there is a wedding feast, then it will bring the young couple happiness in marriage.
Powder from the dried heart of a dove was used for a love spell. It was believed that if lovers ate half a heart of a dove, then their love would be eternal.
Since ancient times, the dove was a symbol of peace and fertility. In one myth, the god of war, Mars could not go on the march because a dove of Venus nested in his helmet. In 1949, Pablo Picasso painted a white dove with a sprig of an olive tree in its beak. By the way, Picasso’s daughter’s name was Paloma (dove).
Historical facts about pigeons
House pigeons are descended from the wild blue pigeon. Domesticated these birds in several places, but the first mention of pigeon breeding came to us from ancient Egypt and Babylon more than 5 thousand years ago. They are also mentioned on the clay tablets of Mesopotamia. It was the first bird domesticated by man. At the excavations of Pompeii were found mosaic images of large pedigreed pigeons with red eyelids (kamponi).
At first, these birds were used for food and religious ceremonies. But already in Asia Minor, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece, pigeons’ ability to return home from afar began to be used for communication and transfer of valuable information. Julius Caesar also used them to communicate with Rome during his military campaigns. At that time, the carrier pigeon cost the same as a pedigree horse. It is believed that birds are guided by the Earth’s magnetic field. They can also navigate by smell, landscape features, and the sun.
Pigeon mail came to Europe from the East during the Crusades. In the Ruhr area of Germany, miners were often fond of raising carrier pigeons and called them “the poor man’s racehorse.” The pigeon mail was created again in the late 19th century during the Franco-Prussian War during the siege of Paris.
Thanks to the pigeon mail, the capital of the wealthy Rothschilds was established. Nathan Rothschild learned of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo three days before the British government, bringing him multi-million dollar profits. In the middle of the 19th-century pigeons were used by famous news agencies and newspapers.
In Russia, pigeon breeding began to develop in the 16th century. A great hunter of pigeons was count Alexander Grigorevich Orlov (the founder of the well-known Orlov trotter and Orlov hens, one of the authors of the Russian horse breed), who created the breed of Orlov Turmans.
Communication between New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef Islands was carried out using pigeon mail until the end of the 19th century.
During World War I, pigeon number 888 was posthumously promoted to lieutenant colonel in the British Army. He was buried with military honors. During the Great Patriotic War, more than 15 thousand important reports were delivered by carrier pigeons. After the blockade, the birds populated Leningrad already in 1954.
The Medal of Mary (Mary) Deakin, established for the animal heroes, was awarded to 32 postal heroic pigeons.
The most expensive was a two-year-old Belgian carrier pigeon sold to China. More than a million and a half euros were paid for it! The most expensive rubies, which are valued along with diamonds, are called “pigeon blood.
Despite his brutality and love of tigers, the famous boxer Mike Tyson adores pigeons. Famous lovers of pigeons were Nikola Tesla and Sergey Obraztsov. The naturalist writer Seton-Thompson created wonderful stories about carrier pigeons.
Anatomical and physiological characteristics of birds
All pigeon breeds are subdivided into postal, racing, decorative, and meat. Pigeon meat is very nutritious, easy to digest, and suitable for feeding sick people.
House pigeons live from 15 to 20 years. It is recommended to keep birds in groups of about 30 birds. For 30 birds about 12 square meters of floor space is needed, the ceiling height of about 2.5 meters. Bedding – sawdust, shavings, or peat. The optimum temperature for keeping birds is 20 degrees. The recommended amount of corn per bird is from 20 to 50 grams and it is also desirable to give pigeons finely chopped vegetables (cabbage, lettuce). Mineral feeding and freshwater should be available all the time.
There are about 300 kinds of pigeons. There are tropical pigeons that can be compared to parrots by the brightness of their feathers. The crowned pigeon is the largest, weighing up to 1.3 kilograms. The American pygmy pigeon is about the size of a sparrow and weighs 45-70 grams. Pigeons are found in all parts of the world except Antarctica. The greatest number of pigeon species are found in tropical areas. In total, there are more than 260 million pigeons in the world.
They are monogamous birds, male and female are almost indistinguishable from each other (sexual dimorphism is not pronounced).
Pigeons are mainly grain-eaters. The feather cover of the pigeon has more than 10 thousand feathers. Pigeons drink like horses, dipping their beak into the water up to their nostrils and sucking the water.
About 800 breeds of these birds are known, and in Russia, there are about 200 domestic breeds.
Female pigeons lay two white eggs for an incubation period of 18 days. They incubate in turns – the female and the male.
City Syzars breed up to 5 times a year. The birds become sexually mature in the first year of life. The pigeons feed their chicks with the bird’s milk, which is secreted in the bird’s goiter under the influence of prolactin.
Pigeons are rather clever and can count to 10 and have excellent long-term memory. They perfectly distinguish the faces of people and appreciate a good attitude. They can hear infrasound, which helps them anticipate natural disasters. Pigeons can even feel the difference between light and darkness with their skin. They can also look at the sun and have the ability to distinguish colors much better than humans.
Tourmans (pigeons that do somersaults) have hereditary disorders of the brain. Sometimes these birds can even crash to the ground, tumbling in flight.
A modern race pigeon can reach speeds of over two kilometers per minute, overtaking even such a peerless flier as a swift. Such a bird can fly almost a thousand kilometers during a day.
Monuments to pigeons
There are over 30 monuments of pigeons in the world. One of the most famous monuments of the carrier pigeon is in the UK. It is a monument to the pigeon that saved the crew of a submarine in 1942 from destruction. She was thrown from the boat to the surface in a special capsule, and she was able to deliver a report of an engine failure.
There is a monument to pigeons in Belgium (in Brussels). And in St. Petersburg, there is a memorial stele, depicting an open book and hands, which protect and guide the pigeons in their very first flight. The monument was erected in 2010 in honor of Teacher’s Day.
A gilded pigeon with an olive branch in its beak and a letter on its paw hangs on chains above the main entrance to the Moskovsky Railway Station – it is a memorial sign in honor of the 60th anniversary of Victory.
The sculpture “The Kiss”, depicting a pigeon drinking water from a puddle, has been installed in Finnish Lane. The sculpture of the soaring pigeon weighing about 84 kilograms is located under the dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg at a height of over 80 meters. The monument of the carrier pigeon is placed in Paris on the Place de Mayo in 1880.
There is a monument to the dove of peace in the city of Ivanovo. In Kazan, there is a fountain decorated with three sculptures of doves. There was a monument to carrier pigeons at the training base in Tsrifin. In Japan, a sculpture of a dove on a balloon is installed near the Yasukuni Shrine. In the capital of Japan, the city of Tokyo, there is also a sculpture of a dove.
There are monuments to pigeons in Vladivostok, Moscow, Samara, Kaluga, Vyazma, and the city Essentuki. In the city of Angarsk, the composition “Pigeons of the world” has 17 birds.
In the Spanish city of Malaga, there is a funny monument of hand-pigeon. The monument to the fat pigeon is in Singapore. In the United States, there is a memorial to the wandering pigeon on the banks of the Wisconsin River. These birds were brutally exterminated in the 19th century. The last bird died of old age in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
In Rostov-on-Don, there is a monument to the pioneer hero Vitya Cherevichkin. The boy raised pigeons and kept in touch with the partisans. The park is also named after him.
The monument to the girl with a pigeon is in Marmaris. In Stockholm, the pigeon is part of the monument to the writer Astrid Lindgren.
Doves are often depicted together with sculptures of angels, and the dove is also a frequent attribute of sculptures depicting the Orthodox Saints Peter and Fevronia.
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