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19 Interesting Facts About Doves

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Doves are a widely recognized bird known for their symbolic meanings of peace, love, and harmony. Beyond their cultural symbolism, doves have many fascinating qualities that make them unique in the avian world.

Here are 19 interesting facts about these mild-mannered birds that may surprise you:

Introduction

Doves belong to the pigeon family of birds known as Columbidae, which includes over 300 species of doves and pigeons. The most common species are mourning doves, white-winged doves, Eurasian collared doves, common ground doves, and rock pigeons.

While often used interchangeably, doves tend to be smaller and thinner than pigeons. Both make soft cooing sounds, but doves tend to have higher-pitched coos. Their symbolism sets them apart as well, with doves representing peace, love, and the holy spirit.

Now let’s explore some captivating traits of these gentle creatures.

Laughing Dove
Laughing Dove by Koshyk is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

Facts About Doves

Anatomy and Appearance

  1. Doves have stout bodies with short legs and slim necks. Their compact shape gives them an adorable rounded appearance.
  2. Coloration varies greatly among species – mourning doves sport muted brown, tan and grey feathers. Eurasian collared doves have a pale grey body with black stripes on the neck.
  3. Their heads are small and slender compared to other birds, allowing them to reach into tiny spaces while foraging for seeds on the ground.
  4. Doves drink by sucking up water then tilting their head back to swallow, unlike most birds that sip water.

Behavioral Traits

  1. Doves are highly monogamous birds that mate for life with a single partner. Both parents incubate eggs and care for hatchlings.
  2. Their soft, melancholy coos are used to strengthen social bonds and attract mates. Variations in rhythm and tempo communicate different meanings.
  3. They can fly at speeds up to 55 mph during long migrations between nesting and wintering grounds.
  4. Doves dust bathe to clean their feathers by lying in dirt and flicking dust through their plumage.

Habitat and Diet

  1. Doves thrive in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts and urban cities across temperate and tropical regions.
  2. Seeds and fruit make up the bulk of their diet. Doves forage on the ground for a mix of grass, flower, and tree seeds.
  3. Their red crop milk sustains hatchlings in their first week of life outside the egg. Both parents produce this nutrient-rich substance in their throats.
  4. They need grit such as sand, pebbles or gravel to help grind up food in their muscular gizzard since they lack teeth.

Symbolic Meanings

  1. White doves denote love and peace in western weddings and ceremonies. Releasing them represents hope, new beginnings and prosperity.
  2. They embody maternal care which is why they’re associated with femininity. In ancient mythologies like Mesopotamia, doves represented fertility goddesses.
  3. The dove was declared the national bird of Cyprus in 1960 to mark independence from British rule. It’s a long-standing symbol of the island’s freedom.
  4. Its biblical meanings derive from the story of Noah’s ark when a dove returned an olive branch after floodwaters receded. Hence, it became a sign of hope and new life.
  5. Doves appear in Hindu and Sikh scriptures to represent the soul or God’s omnipresence.
  6. Cherokee folklore believed doves carried messages between this world and the afterlife. Spotting a white dove meant a deceased loved one was nearby.
  7. Some Native American tribes considered dove feathers holy and used them in prayer sticks, ceremonial costumes and more spiritual rituals.

Conclusion

Beyond their graceful beauty, doves reveal many unique qualities upon closer look – from their compact anatomy adapted for ground foraging to the touching symbolism they carry across cultures. These peaceful creatures continue to entrance us with their soothing coos, loyal bonds and air of innocence.


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