NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

Interestin­g facts about pigeons


APIGEON is a bird that lives in close proximity to humans for thousands of years. There are over 300 different species of pigeons that can be found throughout the world (except in the Sahara desert, on the Antarctica and Arctic). Greatest variety of pigeons exists in India, Malaysia, Asia and Australia. Pigeons inhabit woodlands, tropical rainforest­s, grasslands, savannas, mangrove, rocky areas and even deserts. These birds are often kept as pets because of their beauty and intelligen­ce. Beside large number of pigeons in the wild, hundreds of thousand pigeons live in captivity. Some species of pigeons are endangered due to habitat loss, predation and diseases.

● Size of pigeon depends on the species. Large pigeons can reach 48cm in length and 3,9kg of weight. Small pigeons can reach 12,7cm in length and up to 22,6g of weight.

● Pigeons can have dull or colourful plumage, depending on the habitat and type of diet. The most common type of pigeon (that lives in the cities) has grayish plumage. On average, a pigeon has 10 000 feathers on its body.

● Pigeons have strong muscles used for flying. They can fly at the altitude of 1,8km.

● Pigeons can move their wings 10 times per second and maintain heartbeats at the rate of 600 times per minute, over a period of 16 hours.

● Pigeons can fly at the speed of 80 to 96km per hour. Fastest known pigeons managed to reach a speed of 148km per hour.

● Because of their incredible speed and endurance, pigeons are used for racing.

● Pigeons were used as mail carriers during the First and Second World Wars. They saved numerous lives by delivering informatio­n on the enemy's fire.

● Pigeons are herbivores (plant-eaters). Their diet consists of seeds, fruit and various plants.

● Pigeons are highly-intelligen­t animals. They are able to recognise themselves in the mirror, to find same people on two different pictures and to recognise all letters of the English alphabet.

● Pigeons have exceptiona­l eyesight and ability to identify objects at a distance of 41,8km.

● Pigeons have a very sensitive sense of hearing. They are able to detect distant storms, earthquake­s and volcanic eruptions.

● Pigeons are social animals that live in groups (flocks) composed of 20 to 30 animals.

● Pigeons are monogamous creatures (one couple mate for a lifetime). A couple of pigeons can produce up to eight broods per year when food is abundant.

● Female lays two eggs that hatch after an incubation period of 18 days. Young birds depend on their parents during the first two months of their life. Both parents take care of the chicks (called squabs) and feed them with a milky substance produced in the crop.

● Pigeons can survive more than 30 years in the wild.

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