Bible Birds – Dove, Turtledove and Pigeon’s Introduction

Common Pigeon -aka Rock(Columba livia) by Daves BirdingPix

Common Pigeon -aka Rock(Columba livia) by Daves BirdingPix

Bible Birds – Dove, Turtledove and Pigeon’s Introduction

Doves are in the Columbidae Family of the Columbiformes Order

They are walking birds, feeding both on the ground and in trees; bill slender, grooved, nostrils opening in a fleshy membrane; tail variable, short and square, or long and pointed; feet stout, often reddish. Color usually grayish brown. Call-notes a characteristic cooing.

Sound from xeno-canto.

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 2 Neal Addy Gallery

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 2 Neal Addy Gallery

Family Columbidae includes some 310 species. In general 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 way consistently applied, and historically the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms “dove” and “pigeon.” This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in Indomalaya and Australasia. Young doves and pigeons are called “squabs.”

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and have short slender bills with a fleshy cere. The species commonly referred to just as “pigeon” is the Feral Rock Pigeon, common in many cities.

Doves and pigeons build relatively flimsy nests from sticks and other debris, which may be placed in trees, on ledges or on the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after 7 to 28 days. Doves feed on seeds, fruit and plants. Unlike most other birds, the doves and pigeons produce “crop milk”, which is secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Both parents produce this highly nutritious substance to feed to the young.

Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) by Lee at Zoo Miami

Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) by Lee at Zoo Miami

Pigeons and doves exhibit considerable variations in size. The largest species is the crowned pigeon of New Guinea, which is nearly turkey-sized, at a weight of 4.4-8.8 lb (2-4 kg) The smallest is the New World ground-dove of the genus Columbina, which is the same size as a House Sparrow and weighs as little as 22 g. With a total length of more than 19 in (50 cm) and weight of almost 2 lb (1 kg), the largest arboreal species is the Marquesan Imperial Pigeon, while the Dwarf Fruit Dove, which may measure as little as 5.1 in (13 cm), has a marginally smaller total length than any other species from this family. Smaller species tend to be known as doves, while larger species as pigeons.

Overall, the Columbidae tend to have short bills and legs, and small heads on large compact bodies. They have a habit of head bobbing was shown to be due to their natural desire to keep their vision constant. The wings are large and have low wing loadings; pigeons have strong wing muscles (wing muscles comprise 31–44% of their body weight) and are amongst the strongest fliers of all birds. They are also highly maneuverable in flight.

Superb Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus superbus) by Ian

Superb Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus superbus) by Ian

The plumage (feathers and colors) of the family is variable. Granivorous (seed eater) species tend to have dull plumage, with a few exceptions, whereas the frugivorous (fruit eater) species have brightly-coloured plumage. The Ptilinopus fruit doves are some of the brightest coloured pigeons, with the three endemic species of Fiji and the Indian Ocean Alectroenas being amongst the brightest coloured. In addition to bright colours pigeons may sport crests or other ornamentation.

Seeds and fruit form the major component of the diet of pigeons and doves. In fact, the family can be divided into the seed-eating or granivorous species (subfamily Columbinae) and the fruit-eating or frugivorous species (the other four subfamilies). The granivorous typically feed on seed found on the ground, whereas the species that feed on fruit and mast tend to feed in trees.

Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “EVERY MALE WHO OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” (Luke 2:22-24 NKJV)

In the Bible (Old Testament), doves or young pigeons were acceptable burnt offerings for those who couldn’t afford a more expensive animal. In the book of Genesis, Noah sent out a dove after the great flood in order to determine how far the floodwaters had receded. Dove is also a term of endearment in the Song of Songs and elsewhere.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. (Matthew 3:16 NKJV)

Jesus’ parents sacrificed doves on his behalf after his circumcision (Luke 2:24). Later the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism like a dove (Matthew 3:16), and subsequently, the “peace dove” became a common Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit.

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources.)


Bible Birds

Bible Birds – Doves and Pigeons

Columbidae Family

Wordless Birds


One thought on “Bible Birds – Dove, Turtledove and Pigeon’s Introduction

  1. Pingback: How Long Did Noah’s Flood Last? | Creation Science 4 Kids

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