Take this quiz and learn about pigeons!

1. True or False? Pigeons and doves are completely different groups of birds.

False! From an evolutionary perspective pigeons and doves are all part of the same group, the bird family Columbidae. There are about 300 species in this group. Which birds are called “doves” and which are called “pigeons” is decided by the people who name them. They are all close relatives according to nature.

Did you know?

The familiar “pigeon” that lives in cities around the world is actually a rock dove.

2. True or False? All pigeons are the size of rock doves (city pigeons) or smaller.

False!  The Victoria crowned pigeon is the world’s largest pigeon. It can grow to be 73 to 75 cm (29 to 30 in) long and weigh up to 2.3 kg (5 pounds). The Victoria crowned pigeon is twice as big and five times heavier than a rock dove. They live in the rainforests of New Guinea.

Meet the victoria crowned pigeon and some other pigeon pals!

3. True or False? The dodo was basically a big pigeon.

True! The now extinct dodo was a large flightless pigeon that lived on the island of Mauritius. The dodo was much larger than any living pigeon is. Individuals could grow up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) tall and weigh 10.6 to 17.5 kg (23 to 39 pounds) – that is 20 to 40 times heavier than the pigeons living in our cities. The last known dodo was seen on Mauritius by some Dutch sailors. 

Cast and model of dodo at Oxford University Natural History Museum. Bazza Da Rambler, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The dodos were driven to extinction by hunting and by rats, pigs, cats, and dogs that people brought to Mauritius. Dodos had never seen people and had no natural predators on their island, so they had not evolved any defense against predators. The saying “dead as a dodo” comes from the extinction of the species.  

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