Pigeons Origin

Do you know the origin of pigeons? You might want this information if you are considering raising them.

Pigeons were kept and domesticated as far back as the fifth Egyptian dynasty, around 3,000 B.C.

Pigeons were used in the Hebrew religious ritual and were often used as a sacrifice to atone for sin. They were referred to in the Bible as a symbol for the Holy Spirit.

The Passenger pigeon was the first pigeon for human consumption in the United States. At one time they surpassed any other bird in the world by numbers. Flocks would consist of over a billion birds. The last Passenger pigeon in the world died in 1914. Around 1850 they were being killed by the millions and marketed or used by sporting clubs for trap shooting. In Michigan in 1878 the last large migration and nestings were reported.

Some researchers tell us that the domestic pigeon was brought back to Europe from the East during the Crusades and since 1600 they have been domesticated and kept in Europe continuously. For years only the aristocrats were allowed to keep pigeons then the restrictions were changed and the peasants were able to breed and keep them.

They are still kept and bred in Europe.

There are records of pigeons being raised and used for food by the Egyptians. During the Olympian games they were used to relay information. When telegraph service was interrupted in 1849 the pigeons were used to carry messages.

Many varieties of the domestic pigeon today were decenden from the wild pigeon, Blue Barred Rock, Columa livia. These pigeons of today still resemble this ancestor. Now some other varities differ from their domestic cousins while others resemble still the Blue Barred Rock, Columa livia. These varieties of domestic pigeons will interbreed and the offspring can reproduce themselves.

At one time besides shooting the pigeons they were caught in nets and kept alive till sold. The process worked such that the top net contained pulleys and a rope that led to an attendant hiding in a brush structure under a tree. When the pigeons flew down into the nets, the rope was pulled and the top net immediately fell and captured the entire struggling flock. At one time there were up to 5,000 per day caught in this manner. The collectors of pigeons would travel far to follow the migrating habits of flocks.

Today there are three basic classes of pigeons;

Fancy- These are kept as a hobby and are bred for color and appearance.

Flyers- These are racing homers and tumblers, and are kept for their flying ability.

Utility- These are bred for eating.

In 1913 a federal law was enacted for the protection of migratory birds but it was too late for the shameful slaughter of the Passenger Pigeon, but it did save the wild Band-Tailed pigeon in the western United Sates from extinction. The Band-Tailed pigeon is a common wild breed.

It is thought that the first domestic pigeons were brought to America by colonists. Pigeons were used as message bird during the wall, as research, for game and racing, and they are also very nourishing for convalescents.

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