I really can’t tell you exactly why, but pigeons have always fascinated me. Common may they be, but I never tire of watching them do their normal pigeon things. I love to see them on the wing, too.
Call me a pigeon fancier, I suppose. I raised them for several years, and one of the highlights of my day was always that first visit in the morning to feed them and to see how they fared through the night. They never failed to brighten my day.
I don’t have a flock right now, but I can tell you that there are some birds in my near future.
They seem such a necessary part of the backyard, or homestead, once you have experienced the joys of the pigeon.
Some insight into the nature of the bird can be gained by examining the definition and the origin of the word.
- Any of various birds of the widely distributed family Columbidae, characteristically having plump bodies, small heads, and short legs, especially the rock dove or any of its domesticated varieties.
early 13c., from O.Fr. pijon “young dove,” probably from V.L. *pibionem, dissimilation from L.L. pipionem “squab, young chirping bird” (3c.), acc. of L. pipio “chirping bird,” from pipire “to peep, chirp,” of imitative origin. Modern spelling is from later Fr. pigeon. Replaced culver (O.E. culufre, from V.L. *columbra, from L. columbula) and native dove.
If you have any doubt as to the character of the bird, I have always liked this excerpt that I found in “Home Cookbook Of Wild Meat and Game”, by Bradford Angier.
“The modern city pigeon is a descendant of the rock pigeon that in the Old World dwelled among the cliffs and crevices above the caves in which early man built his first fires. He has been with us since our emergence from the ice ages and has adapted as readily as ourselves to the artificial canyons of man’s first walled towns. He has known the Grecian palaces and the metropolises of Byzantium. His cold flat feet, adapted to high and precarious walking, have sauntered in the temples of vanished gods as readily as in Boston’s old North Station”.
Think about that, next time you contemplate a pigeon.
But then again, perhaps you already have…
Painting by William Holman Hunt
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