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Derivation: The word ‘pigeon’ is derived from the Latin word ‘pipio’, meaning ‘young cheeping bird’. Mention of pigeon sacrifices can also be found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.The word ‘dove’ is of Norse origin and first appeared in the 14th century as ‘dova’ or ‘douve’. The pigeon is probably best known for its ability to return ‘home’ from long distances and has been used extensively by man for this purpose. However, it is likely that rock doves were domesticated by Neolithic man as far back as 10,000 years ago in and around the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates.

One species, the Atoll Fruit Dove, has adapted to taking insects and small reptiles.

Some ground feeding species (granivorous species) eat fruit and take insects and worms.

Man has found many sporting uses for the pigeon throughout history, with the earliest known example being the sport of Triganieri.

It is unclear when this ancient sport first started, but the early Greeks and Romans are believed to have participated in it.

The feral pigeon has few if any natural predators, with man being the main threat to the bird in areas of human habitation.

The sparrowhawk may also predate on the wild pigeon.The sport involves each participant using captive pigeons, released from several pigeon lofts or dovecotes at the same time, and to lure as many birds as possible away from adjoining lofts using specially trained pigeons.The captured birds were either killed or held for ransom. Distribution: Worldwide except Sahara Desert, Antarctica and the high Arctic. Most Common: Feral Pigeon - 10-15 million in Europe. Habitat: The wild pigeon is found in coastal areas and the feral pigeon is found almost exclusively in areas of human habitation.The Romans and ancient Greeks used the pigeon extensively for carrying messages and the first sophisticated messaging service was established in Syria and Persia in the 12th century AD, with messages being carried by pigeons from city to city.

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