All pigeons have soft swellings (ceres) at the base of the nostrils, feed their young with "pigeon's milk" regurgitated from the crops of the parents, and have specialized bills through which they can suck up water steadily, unlike other birds. They eat chiefly fruits and seeds. From ancient times, pigeons—especially homing pigeons, which are also used as racing birds—have been used for carrying messages. Although electronics has largely replaced them as messengers, they are still of experimental importance. It is thought that they may navigate by the sun. Monogamous and amorous, pigeons are known for their soft cooing calls.
The most common American wild pigeon is the small, gray-brown mourning dove Zenaidura macroura (sometimes called turtledove), similar to the once abundant passenger pigeon, which was slaughtered indiscriminately and became extinct in 1914. Other wild American species are the band-tailed, red-billed, and white-crowned pigeons, all of the genus Columba, and the reddish brown ground-doves (genus Columbina). The Australasian region has two thirds of the 289 species of pigeons, of which the fruit pigeons are the most colorful and the gouras, or crowned pigeons, the largest (to 33 in./84 cm). In Europe the turtledove, rock pigeon or dove, stock dove, and ringdove or wood pigeon are common. The rock dove, Columba livia, of temperate Europe and W Asia is the wild progenitor of the common street and domestic pigeons. Domesticated varieties developed by selective breeding include the fantail, with numerous erectile tail feathers; the Jacobin, with a hoodlike ruff; the tumbler, which turns backward somersaults in flight; the pouter, with an enormous crop; and the quarrelsome carrier, with rosettelike eyes and nose wattles.
Many species are valued as game birds; their close relationship to the Gallinae (e.g., pheasants and turkeys) is illustrated by the sand grouse, an Old World pigeon named for its resemblance to the grouse. In religion and art the dove symbolizes peace and gentleness, and in Greek mythology it was sacred to Aphrodite. The long-extinct dodo and solitaire birds were members of this order.
Pigeons are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Columbiformes, family Columbidae.
Merlin (Falco columbarius).
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Magician and wise man in Arthurian legend. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of England, Merlin was an adviser to King Arthur, with magical powers that recalled his Celtic origins. Later narratives made him a prophet of the grail and gave him credit for the idea of the Round Table. In Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur he brought Arthur to the throne and served as his mentor throughout his reign. His downfall was linked to his infatuation for an enchantress, who imprisoned him after learning the magic arts from him.
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Plump, small-billed, monogamous birds of the family Columbidae, found almost worldwide and recognizable by their head-bobbing strut. Unlike other birds, pigeons suck liquids and provide the young with regurgitated “pigeon's milk.” The 175 species of true pigeons include the Old and New World Columba species and the Old World Streptopelia species; all eat seeds and fruit. Common street pigeons, or rock doves, are descendants of the Eurasian rock dove (Columba livia). From antiquity pigeons were trained to carry messages over long distances. About 115 species of fruit pigeons occur in Africa, southern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific islands. The three species of crowned pigeons (genus Goura), of New Guinea, are nearly the size of a turkey. Seealso dove; mourning dove; passenger pigeon; turtledove.
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Passenger pigeon, mounted (Ectopistes migratorius)
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There were 496 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.3% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the village the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 26.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $33,618, and the median income for a family was $44,563. Males had a median income of $31,599 versus $19,886 for females. The per capita income for the village was $17,142. About 5.0% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.0% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.