Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Pigeons and doves are some 300 species of close to passerine birds in the order Columbiformes. In common parlance the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no method consistently applied, and historically the ordinary names for these birds involve much variation between "dove" and "pigeon".

The species usually referred to just as the "pigeon" is the feral Rock Pigeon, common in many cities.

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

The typically 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. Unlike most other birds, the doves and pigeons produce "crop milk", which is concealed by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Both sexes make this highly nutritious substance to feed to the young.

This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest diversity is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. It is connected to the extinct dodo. The young doves and pigeons are called "squabs".
Several species of pigeon or dove are used as food, and most likely any could be; the powerful breast muscles feature of the family make excellent meat. In Europe the Wood Pigeon is usually shot as a game bird, while Rock Pigeons were originally domesticated as a food species, and lots of breeds were developed for their meat-bearing qualities. The death of the Passenger Pigeon was at least partly due to shooting for use as food.

Doves are Kosher, and they and Turtle Doves are the simply birds that may be used for a Korban. Other Kosher birds may be eaten, but not brought as a Korban.


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