Pigeons and Doves

The group of pigeons and doves includes all members of the Columbidae family; that is all the pigeons and doves.

The terms pigeon and dove came into the English language from different sources. That is the original term, dove is of German origin and the term pigeon is of French or Norman origin. Originally when the second term (pigeon) was introduced to the English language it was used for the cooked version of the bird as pork is for pigs and beef is for cows etc. Over time however, this has all changed and the words can now be interchanged without breaking any hard and fast rules. Generally speaking, though the modern take on the two words is that pigeon is used for the larger species of the order and dove for the smaller and more delicate species of the order.

In Australia there are 31 species of pigeons and doves, of which 5 have been introduced and 3 are vagrants. Worldwide there are some 310 species.

One of Australia’s largest pigeons is the Wompoo Fruit Dove, (and the name contravenes the above rule already), it is about 45cm long; it is a fruit eater, preferring various figs and other rainforest fruits. It is very brightly coloured with purple and yellow under side, green and yellow back and wings and a white head; even so it is very difficult to find in the foliage due to its quiet nature. These birds rarely migrate, preferring to stay in their own neck of the woods and make do with what is on offer.

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