A Familiar Sound
Coo, coo, coo...
Ever heard that familiar sound coming from a bird? Chances are you are hearing a dove!
Doves are common birds with a very symbolic history. Many religions and cultures celebrate doves as a symbol of peace. The Christian religion uses the dove as a symbol of God, while other cultures release doves into the sky at ceremonies, weddings, and other important events.
The cool thing about doves is that they live all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. They are pretty hardy birds and can live in desert areas, tropical forests, mountains, and woodlands.
Doves eat mainly insects, seeds, nuts, and fruits but in areas where people feed them, they will eat almost anything. Females tend to lay two eggs at a time, and it only takes a few weeks for them to hatch. In the wild, most doves live around 3-5 years, but in captivity they can live even longer.
All in the Family
Have you ever been to a city park and seen those cute little birds walking around eating crumbs? Those are pigeons and they are everywhere. Most people think of doves and pigeons as the same thing, and they aren't totally wrong.
Doves belong to the scientific family called Columbidae. This family includes all types of doves, but also pigeons as well. Pigeons are usually thought to be bigger and more of a gray color, while people picture doves as smaller and white with their signature long tail feathers. But this isn't always true. There are close to 300 species of dove, and each have their own special characteristics.
Most species of doves share similar characteristics, such as small heads, pointed bills, rounded bodies, long wings, and tail feathers. Their wings actually make up 40 percent of their body weight because of how muscular they are!
If you are in a park, it may seem like there are doves and pigeons everywhere. But some species of dove are actually endangered, which means that their population numbers have gone down and they are at risk of dying off forever.
Scientists say that almost 60% of the species of doves are at risk of becoming endangered. There are many threats to these birds, such as new predators, hunting, and loss of their habitat due to development and forests being cut down. Some species of doves have even become extinct over the years.
Did You Know?
Let's now take a moment to go over some fun facts you may not know about doves:
- All doves make the coo sound, but each species has a slightly different sound.
- Doves are found almost all over the world, but many of them are in Australia and parts of Asia.
- Both the male and female dove produce a type of milk in a sac at the base of their neck. Both the mom and the dad dove feed this to their babies.
- Some species of doves mate for life. They stay together their whole lives. How sweet!
- As friendly as these birds seem to humans, they can actually be pretty mean to each other. If one dove invades the territory of another, he may be attacked and killed.
- There are many types of doves with some of the most popular types being turtle doves, ground doves, quail doves, mourning doves, and cuckoo doves.
- The largest dove in the family is the Victoria crowned pigeon, which can grow to be two to three feet long! The smallest is the pygmy ground dove at around six inches.
Doves are all a part of the Columbidae family of birds. They are a symbol of peace and good luck in many cultures and religions. With over 300 species in the family, they are found all over the world in many different habitats. Hopefully, scientists will continue to work toward saving these amazing birds from becoming endangered.
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Doves: True or False Activity
This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the unique features of a dove.
Determine whether the following statements are true or false. To do this, print or copy this page on a blank paper and underline or circle the answer.
True | False 1. Columbian is a bird family consisting of doves, pigeons, and sparrows.
True | False 2. Doves are round-bodied birds with big heads, short wings, and tail feathers.
True | False 3. Many species of doves have declined in numbers; some have become threatened.
True | False 4. Doves and pigeons are distributed everywhere on Earth, except in cold areas like the South Pole.
True | False 5. Male doves tend to lay two eggs at a time, with both parents caring for the young.
True | False 6. Doves have high-endurance birds and can thrive in desert areas, tropical forests, mountains, and woodlands.
True | False 7. The typical lifespans of doves in the wilderness range from twelve to fifteen years.
True | False 8. The Victoria crowned pigeon is a beautiful and gentle ground bird, which is considered the largest species of doves.
True | False 9. Some species of doves typically occur in pairs and mate for life.
True | False 10. Both parent doves produce milk in a sac at the base of their spine.
- False, because the correct statement is: Columbidae is a bird family consisting of doves and pigeons.
- False, because the correct statement is: Doves are round-bodied birds with small heads, long wings, and tail feathers.
- False, because the correct statement is: Female doves tend to lay two eggs at a time, with both parents caring for the young.
- False, because the correct statement is: The typical lifespans of doves in the wilderness range from three to five years.
- False, because the correct statement is: Both parent doves produce milk in a sac at the base of their neck.
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