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Pigeons and doves exhibit considerable variations in size. The largest species are the crowned pigeons of New Guinea, which are nearly turkey-sized, at a weight of 2-4 kilograms (4.4-8.8 lbs.) The smallest are the New World ground-doves of the genus Columbina, which are the same size as a House Sparrow and weigh as little as 22 grams. 

 

 With a total length of more than 50 centimeters (19 in) and weight of almost a kilo (2 lb), the largest arboreal species is the Marquesan Imperial-pigeon, while the Dwarf Fruit-dove, which may measure as little as 13 centimeters (5.1 in), 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, but there is no taxonomic basis for distinguishing between the two.

Overall, the Columbidae tend to have short bills and legs, small heads on large compact bodies. 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.

The plumage of the family is variable. Granivorous species tend to have dull plumage, with a few exceptions, whereas the frugivorous 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. Pigeons and doves may be sexually monochromatic or dichromatic. In addition to bright colours pigeons may sport crests or other ornamentation.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 September 2009 22:17 )  

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