Pigeons may be one of the most well-known birds. After all, they are found around the world, often in cities where they are visible in parks.
Also known as rock doves, the birds are not native to North America, but they have done well since coming here in the 1600s.
Bird-lover and cartoonist Rosemary Mosco has written a book about all things pigeon — “A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching: Getting to Know the World's Most Misunderstood Bird.” Here are some of the fun things she notes in the book:
• Like dogs, pigeons pant when they get hot. They can even breathe deeply and pant at the same time.
• Pigeons have three eyelids per eye.
• Pigeon poop has been used to make gunpowder, soften leather and fertilize crops.
• The word pigeon is French and comes from the Latin word pipiare, meaning chirp or cheep.
• Pigeons are members of the Columbidae family which also includes the dodo, a now extinct flightless bird, and the Victoria crowned pigeon, which can weigh up to 5 pounds and has a feathery hat-like crest.
• Thousands of years ago humans captured and bred pigeons for different things, like for meat and pretty feathers. This is not unlike how humans captured wolf pups and created the many different dog breeds you now see.
• Evidence that humans have been eating pigeons dates way back. Pigeon bones dated 67,000 years old were found in a cave in Europe with signs that they had been burnt and cut. In the cave there was evidence the birds had been someone's dinner for 40,000 years.
So the next time you see a pigeon in the park or downtown, consider that it’s a pretty cool bird. But watch out where you step, pigeons also poop a lot.
— Brett French, email@example.com