By J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Columba
Species: Columba livia

The Rock Pigeon goes by many names, most commonly the Common Pigeon, Rock Dove, Carrier Pigeon, Messenger Pigeon, and the Feral Pigeon as well as the Fancy or Domestic Pigeon.  They are also less affectionately known as sky rats, sewer eagles, gutter falcons, and the like due to their omnipresence in so many of our cities worldwide.

It has long served as a symbol, a messenger, companion, food source, and more in human societies.  The rock pigeon was introduced to North America in the 17th century when colonists brought domestic pigeons from their settlements in Europe and they escaped from their cages, forming feral populations (Johnston, Bird of North America).

Pigeons have incredible genetic elasticity as pigeon fanciers worldwide, including Charles Darwin, have long known.  This allows breeders to manipulate the species into a huge range of different breeds with unique plumage and traits of each one demonstrating the array of possibilities for the species.  Darwin used pigeons as a metaphor for mutable changes that can happen within one species, in part because he was able to show how quickly and drastically they were able to change over a relatively short amount of time (Humphries 2008).

Drawn by Claire Wood

Food Habits
Life Cycle
Population Trends and Conservation Issues
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