Differentiating between a white pigeon and a dove.
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Posted 2/21/2009 12:40:52 AM
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This is a strange story that you may relate to or think is nuts! (I'm not sure myself which it is!) I'm a nurse and started on a new unit in a new hospital a year ago. I heard the rumor shortly after starting about how when someone is about to die several nurses have seen a dove (or white pigeon) on a windowsill outside of a room (not necessarily the room of the patient dying). I have wittnessed it twice. The last time I saw the bird up close (it didn't fly away when a few of us went to the window). It has a narrow neck and head and the body isn't as pudgy as the pigeon's I've seen. We never see it when there isn't someone about to die. I know this sounds weird! Please don't think I'm nuts, I'm usually a very practical and scientific person. I'm just currios how you tell the difference between a white pigeon and a dove. The jury is still out on this, and I will continue my investigation.

Owned by Captain Flint (CAG)

Freddie (BFA) & Sunny Jim (lovebird)

Post #205736
Posted 2/21/2009 7:08:02 AM
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It sounds like a dove. Doves are all over the place, just like pigeons. In Wi. they hunt them.
It would be interesting to know what the room is where this bird shows up. It is very apt to be that if it is a waiting room or a room where staff gather or where grieving family are allowed to be that this bird shows up out of having made a bond to humans associated with the room. Perhaps he was fed outside the window during a time when some one was visiting often enough to train him. Perhaps there is some color or light that he associates with food in another situation.
Post #205760
Posted 2/21/2009 8:58:13 AM

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If it's any consolation, I've heard of a story of a cat in a nursing home who would go to a dying persons room and nap with them. This would then give family enough time to say goodbye. The cat would otherwise not go and visit any of the patients in such a friendly manner.

Cat plays furry grim reaper at nursing home
Oscar the Cat Predicts Nursing Home Deaths
Nursing home cat can sense death?
Cat predicts deaths in nursing home

So do I think you are crazy???? No, but I do think that animals have this innate ability that we don't know about, perhaps because we've lost touch with our senses and so many of us can no longer tell? Although it doesn't sound scientific, I bet it is!

As for Dove vs Pigeon, this is what I've found...

From the World Book Dictionary,

pigeon: any one of a group of birds with a plump body, short tail and short legs...There are numerous species, making up a family of birds. The smaller kinds are usually called doves.

dove: a bird with a thick body, short legs, and a beak enlarged at the tip. It is a small kind of pigeon that is not domesticated.

I think there is an important difference that I would explain to my students. As you can see from the examples below, "there is no true scientific difference." They both belong to the family Columbidae, but there is an important difference in how the two terms are used colloquially. Native speakers generally associate pigeons with domesticated birds or birds that fly around in parks and squares in cities. They tend to associate doves with wild birds that live in forests and are a symbol of peace. A love poem is more likely to have doves than pigeons.


Pigeons and Doves
There is no true scientific difference
between 'pigeons' and 'doves'. While the smaller pigeons often get called 'doves', this is fairly inconsistent. The family can be split into two different groups, but this is based more on their ecology and diet. There are those pigeons that feed on seeds (usually duller coloured, ground-dwelling pigeons), and those that feed on fruit (more striking, aboreal species). The Daintree area has a diverse group of pigeons, with representatives of both types of pigeons, although many species are heard more often than seen.

"And you know what else really gets my goat? My Japanese students think they're DOVES for God's sake. DOVES, I said! They are NOT doves! Doves are pretty and white and they go coo-coo. They're gentle and lovely to be around. You'd never catch a dove stepping over another dove to get at a dirty piece of Pocky that some stinking kid who needs his diaper changed has a mind to throw at him."

"Don't you see! That's what's so dangerous!" Xavier says. "To confuse something vile and ugly, like a low and foul pigeon, with a gentle, tender dove ... it gets to the root of all the evil in the world! Every instance of evil! The deception in the Garden of Eden! Oh no, that's not a pigeon offering you that apple, Eve my dear! That's a dove! A lovely pure white dove who wants only the best for you!"

"Subtle semantic difference, you may say. Perhaps a pigeon IS a member of the dove family, some distant and unwelcome relative generally shunned at family picnics." Xavier digs into his pocket and slaps down a hundred-yen coin onto the metal drainboard. "But when people start confusing the two--innocently enough, but still, a confusion--the whole symbol becomes muddy. And when the symbols become muddy, can the idea behind the symbol ... can the idea of peace itself remain unsullied? You've got people confusing pigeons with doves! Pigeons are the most unpeaceful creatures I've ever seen, and that's my whole point! They've taken over Peace Park, and they've convinced everybody that they're doves. The wolves are at the door, and they're all in pigeons' clothing."

In all the replies, I don't think anyone has pointed out that the connotations of the word 'dove' are usually positive and those of the word 'pigeon' are usually negative. This is because the birds classified as doves rather than pigeons are usually prettier and have long been associated with love and peace. The birds classified as pigeons are nowadays generally considered to be a nuisance (except to people who like or actually keep them as pets!) and there are a few expressions including the word which also tend to have negative connotations, such as 'pigeon-toed', 'pigeon-chested', or even 'pigeon-holed'.

There's a similar thing with raven and crow. A lot of native English speakers would not be able to tell you the difference between the two - and indeed there may not even be a difference, But 'raven' sounds grand and striking and has a good connotation - conjuring up the image of the famous birds at the Tower of London and all the history and tradition - whereas 'crow' has a bad connotation and has even come to be used pejoratively about women (what a surprise!) to describe an elderly woman.

I don't know if this helps - but I really do think it's more to do with the associations of the words in question and how they are used than the scientific meanings when the two things are so similar that it's difficult to tell the difference.

Pigeons and Doves of the World


The above information came from a teaching/learning forum. Below is information on their family.

In general parlance the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the term "dove" and "pigeon."

Post #205784
Posted 2/21/2009 9:31:28 AM
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Going by your description, it sounds like a white ringneck dove.  They are the ones that are bred to be released in weddings which is a terrible, terrible practice as these birds have been domesticated for so long it's very rare they survive on their own.   Because they were bred by humans and are used to humans feeding them, they normally show no fear of them (that's why she did not fly away when the nurses were looking at her -or him :-).   If at all possible, do try to catch her and bring her over to a bird rescue (but don't try to use your hands because she will fly away from you, try putting a cage with food and water inside and wait for her to go in).  You would be saving her life.

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Post #205789
Posted 2/21/2009 1:27:25 PM

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Could be a ring-necked dove, but those are more off-white than completely white, aren't they? I know the Eurasian collared doves are, at least.

I don't think you're crazy. Let's just say I'm one who believes that animals often have messages for us. I also believe that they can sense spiritual energy, and perhaps this dove has some reason to be visiting. But that's just me. :P

Montana Raptor Conservation Center
Post #205831
Posted 2/21/2009 9:33:22 PM
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After I had posted this, I felt foolish and tried to delete it but couldn't. Thanks to all your responses I don't feel that way anymore!

Icky: Re what room it comes to. It comes to the ledge of a different patient's room each time (not to a waiting room or a staff room).

Monica: It's true that we associate different things to pigeons than to doves. I don't think that tainted my perspective though. I was just currious. That was some interesting reading!

Bea: I don't know how the hospital or the patients in the rooms would feel about me trying to catch it, besides it only comes when someone is about to die. If I can get a picture I'll post it and if it ends up being a bird that needs rescuing I will see what I can do. For now we wait for it to appear again.

Redfeather: Thanks for your vote of confidence, I think animals sense things also!

I'm going to take my camera to work each day and try and get a picture (of course I'll probably have to wait till someone happens to be very near death on my shift so it may take a while). I also have asked any staff that know about it to please be on the lookout for it so I can see if it comes other times also. I'll keep you posted (may take a while though). Thanks again for your responses!!! It meant a lot to me to be accepted even when I go out on a limb!

Owned by Captain Flint (CAG)

Freddie (BFA) & Sunny Jim (lovebird)

Post #205880
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