Pigeons in the Park

Columba livia

Pigeon. Or dove.

Joanna here, delving into the nitty gritty of the past. Asking myself what would be familiar to a time traveller dipping into history? What would be stunningly weird?

What I’m  pondering today is pigeons.

Like, “What is a pigeon and why isn’t it a dove?” and vice versa.
One of those cases we have two words for the same thing, really. Kind of comforting to know we're stocked up with synonyms.


Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 11.35.42 AMBackground: There are 344 species in the Columbidae family worldwide. They're called pigeon or dove more or less at random. Whenever you think you’ve got some difference nailed down – like pigeons are larger and plumper – you’ll come across some tiny bitty twittering bird in the Far East that’s called a pigeon and category common sense goes flying out the window.

In other zoological news, pigeons are most closely related to cuckoos. Many of us have this problem.

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