Feral pigeons are derived from wild rock doves that were domesticated in the Middle East over 6,000 years ago. Rock doves were domesticated initially as a source of food, and for religious purposes. The terms "dove" and "pigeon" are interchangeable. Most people refer to smaller species as doves.
Humans soon produced variants that could be used in other ways e.g. 3,000 years ago pigeons were being bred not only for the table, but for delivering messages and for racing. By the fifth century BC, Syria and Persia had widespread networks of message-carrying pigeons.
Pigeons are regular visitors to White Rock Lake, especially Sunset Bay. The image above was captured from the pier at Sunset Bay.
The average lifespan of a pigeon is 10 to 15 years. The oldest recorded pigeon was around 33 years.
whilst a squirrel looks on
But don’t think the use of pigeons as a means of communication is outdated. Even today, homing pigeons are used in remote areas. In fact, the Police Pigeon Service in Orissa, India, was retired only in 2002.
Some religious groups feed pigeons for cultural reasons. For example, Sikhs feed pigeons to honor the high priest and warrior, Guru Govind Singh. Some Sikhs also believe that when they are reincarnated they will never go hungry if they have fed pigeons in their previous life.
Christians believe that the pigeon is both a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit.
In the image below, the male pigeon is going through a courtship ritual in an attempt to woo the female in the foreground. Feral pigeons mate for life.
to woo the female
The next time you see feral pigeons, show them some respect. They are far from being a pest, and we have so much to thank them for. These beautiful creatures were a source of food for our ancestors, they kept us informed by delivering the latest news, and these brave birds helped us win both World Wars.
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