genus of pigeons
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Doves and pigeons constitute the bird family Columbidae, which includes about 310 species. Pigeons are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short, slender bills (and in some species, these bills feature fleshy ceres.) They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.

Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. ~ Psalms. LV. 6.

In general, the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. Pigeon is a French word that derives from the Latin pipio, for a "peeping" chick, while dove is a Germanic word that refers to the bird's diving flight. In ornithological practice, "dove" tends to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically, the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as "pigeon" is the rock dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is common in many cities as the feral pigeon.




  • The Dove,
    On silver pinions, winged her peaceful way.
  • Not half so swift the trembling doves can fly,
    When the fierce eagle cleaves the liquid sky;
    Not half so swiftly the fierce eagle moves,
    When thro' the clouds he drives the trembling doves.
  • Anon, as patient as the female dove,
    When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
    His silence will sit drooping.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 201.
  • And there my little doves did sit
    With feathers softly brown
    And glittering eyes that showed their right
    To general Nature's deep delight.
  • The thrustelcok made eek hir lay,
    The wode dove upon the spray
    She sang ful loude and cleere.
  • As when the dove returning bore the mark
    Of earth restored to the long labouring ark;
    The relics of mankind, secure at rest,
    Oped every window to receive the guest,
    And the fair bearer of the message bless'd.
  • Listen, sweet Dove, unto my song,
    And spread thy golden wings in me;
    Hatching my tender heart so long,
    Till it get wing, and flie away with Thee.
  • We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves.
    • Isaiah. LIX. 11.
  • See how that pair of billing doves

    With open murmurs own their loves
    And, heedless of censorious eyes,
    Pursue their unpolluted joys:
    No fears of future want molest
    The downy quiet of their nest.
  • Ut solet accipiter trepidas agitare columbas.
    • As the hawk is wont to pursue the trembling doves.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, V, 606.
  • Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
    • Psalms. LV. 6.
  • And oft I heard the tender dove
    In firry woodlands making moan.
  • I heard a Stock-dove sing or say
    His homely tale, this very day;
    His voice was buried among trees,
    Yet to be come at by the breeze:
    He did not cease; but cooed—and cooed;
    And somewhat pensively he wooed:
    He sang of love, with quiet blending,
    Slow to begin, and never ending;
    Of serious faith, and inward glee;
    That was the song,—the song for me!


  • Since balloons could not be flown back into Paris due to their erratic and uncontrollable flight patterns, the only means of getting information... was the carrier pigeon. Pigeons had been used to convey messages since antiquity, and a pigeon post... operated as late as 1850 by Paul Julius Reuter... proved... swifter than the railway in carrying stock prices between Brussels and Aachen. The carrier pigeons used in the Siege of Paris were able to carry much more information thanks to... microphotography invented by René Dagron. In 1859 Dragon had received a patent for microfilm, and over the next decade he produced... photographs shrunk to fit inside jewels, signet rings [etc.]... He also developed... a profitable sideline in pornography... enjoyed with the aid of a special magnifying viewer. During the siege, Dagron turned.. to more patriotic endeavors. ...photographing government dispatches, shrinking them.., printing them on lightweight collodion membranes.., and fitting as many as 40,000... into a canister strapped to the legs of a single carrier pigeon. The pigeons... encountering on their return to Paris... falcons specially trained by the Prussians. ...[T]he pigeons also carried personal communications.
    • Ross King, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism (2006) pp. 286-287.
  • Wood-pigeons cooed there, stock-doves nestled there;
    My trees were full of songs and flowers and fruit,
    Their branches spread a city to the air.
  • 'Tis a bird I love, with its brooding note,
    And the trembling throb in its mottled throat;
    There's a human look in its swelling breast,
    And the gentle curve of its lowly crest;
    And I often stop with the fear I feel—
    He runs so close to the rapid wheel.
    • Nathaniel Parker Willis, The Belfry Pigeon; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 597.
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