24 July 2012

Pigeons and doves

A dove with gorgeously coloured plumes.

I have been away on holiday for the past two weeks hence the lack of blog posts.  Whilst looking through the photographs I took, I remembered that I had taken a photograph of this beautiful dove with gorgeously coloured plumes.  I wondered what the difference was between pigeons and doves and even though I carried out some preliminary research I was none the less wiser.  Some websites appeared to suggest that a difference in size was the deciding factor with doves being smaller than pigeons whereas other websites seemed to say that there was no difference at all between the two and it would therefore be better to refer to them by their collective name Columbidae.

"In general the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms "dove" and "pigeon."

Some people tend to underestimate the importance of pigeons and doves whilst others use a slang and deragotary term such as "birdbrain" to mean a stupid and unintelligent person implying that birds are stupid because they have a small brain.  These people are so misinformed. 

Pigeons especially carrier pigeons otherwise known as homing pigeons have assisted us in the past during World War I and II to deliver messages before the days of smart phones, instant messages, Skype, emails and social media.  Perhaps the current day Twitter can be seen as a modern take on the old carrier pigeons.  Even the emblem of Twitter is that of a bird so it may not be such a ludicrous idea after all.  In any case, here is an extract below taken from Wikipedia which explains how pigeons have been held in high esteem and have received medals for their contributions. 

 "The pigeon has contributed to both World War I and II, notably by the Australian, French, German, American, and UK forces. Thirty-two pigeons have been decorated with the Dickin Medal for war contributions, including Commando, G.I. Joe, Paddy, and William of Orange.

Cher Ami, a homing pigeon in World War I, was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster for his service in Verdun and for delivering the message that saved the Lost Battalion of the 77th Infantry Division in the Battle of the Argonne, October 1918. When Cher Ami died, he was mounted and is part of the permanent exhibit at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution.

A grand ceremony was held in Buckingham Palace to commemorate a platoon of pigeons that braved the battlefields of Normandy to deliver vital plans to Allied forces on the fringes of Germany. Three of the actual birds that received the medals are on show in the London Military Museum so that well wishers can pay their respects." 

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