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common name for members of the large family Columbidae, land birds, cosmopolitan in temperate and tropical regions, characterized by stout bodies, short necks, small heads, and thick, heavy plumage. The names dove and pigeon are used interchangeably, though the former generally refers to smaller members of the family.

All pigeons have soft swellings (ceres) at the base of the nostrils, feed their young with "pigeon's milk" regurgitated from the crops of the parents, and have specialized bills through which they can suck up water steadily, unlike other birds. They eat chiefly fruits and seeds. From ancient times, pigeons—especially homing pigeons, which are also used as racing birds—have been used for carrying messages. Although electronics has largely replaced them as messengers, they are still of experimental importance. It is thought that they may navigate by the sun. Monogamous and amorous, pigeons are known for their soft cooing calls.

The most common American wild pigeon is the small, gray-brown mourning dove Zenaidura macroura (sometimes called turtledove), similar to the once abundant passenger pigeon, which was slaughtered indiscriminately and became extinct in 1914. Other wild American species are the band-tailed, red-billed, and white-crowned pigeons, all of the genus Columba, and the reddish brown ground-doves (genus Columbina). The Australasian region has two thirds of the 289 species of pigeons, of which the fruit pigeons are the most colorful and the gouras, or crowned pigeons, the largest (to 33 in./84 cm). In Europe the turtledove, rock pigeon or dove, stock dove, and ringdove or wood pigeon are common. The rock dove, Columba livia, of temperate Europe and W Asia is the wild progenitor of the common street and domestic pigeons. Domesticated varieties developed by selective breeding include the fantail, with numerous erectile tail feathers; the Jacobin, with a hoodlike ruff; the tumbler, which turns backward somersaults in flight; the pouter, with an enormous crop; and the quarrelsome carrier, with rosettelike eyes and nose wattles.

Many species are valued as game birds; their close relationship to the Gallinae (e.g., pheasants and turkeys) is illustrated by the sand grouse, an Old World pigeon named for its resemblance to the grouse. In religion and art the dove symbolizes peace and gentleness, and in Greek mythology it was sacred to Aphrodite. The long-extinct dodododo,
a flightless forest-dwelling bird of Mauritius, extinct since the late 17th cent. The dodo was closely related to the Rodrigues solitaire, extinct flightless giant found on another island in the Mascarene Islands.
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 and Rodrigues solitaire were members of the pigeon family.

Pigeons are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Columbiformes, family Columbidae.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of various stout-bodied birds in the family Columbidae having short legs, a bill with a horny tip, and a soft cere.


any of numerous birds of the family Columbidae, having a heavy body, small head, short legs, and long pointed wings: order Columbiformes
References in periodicals archive ?
Comparison of pharmacokinetic parameters after oral administration of a single dose of deferiprone (50 mg/ kg) to iron-loaded and control domestic pigeons.
We investigated the pharmacokinetic disposition and bioavailability of the drug in domestic pigeons (Columba livia), a species with initial hepatic iron levels higher than those in the chickens used in the previous study.
in domestic pigeons in Germany, indicating a typical prey-predator transmission cycle (3).
cycles between northern goshawks and domestic pigeons and is highly pathogenic for the pigeons after they ingest low doses of sporocysts.
To determine the usefulness of BIPS as an alternative to barium suspension in measuring gastrointestinal (GI) transit time for avian species, ventrodorsal radiographs were used to follow the passage of BIPS and 30% barium sulfate suspension through the GI tracts of domestic pigeons (Columba livia).
Six domestic pigeons were initially obtained for this study.
As a result, standard blood glucose concentrations in domestic pigeons could be predicted with reliable accuracy from glucometer results.
The objective was to validate a model of postfracture pain in perching birds, in 21 adult domestic pigeons.
For 3 years, cultures of oropharyngeal samples from 612 wild and domestic pigeons (Columba livia) and 102 birds of prey from 15 different species were made in an attempt to determine the prevalence of T gallinae in the Valencian community (eastern Spain).
Infections in domestic pigeons are typically mixed and commonly include Eimeria columbarum and Eimeria labbeana.
Twenty-four domestic pigeons (Columba livia forma domestica) were divided into 2 groups with 12 pigeons each: an infection group and a control group.
We describe lesions in 29 adult domestic pigeons (Columba livia) poisoned with chlorophacinone, an indandione anticoagulant rodenticide.

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