The pigeon is a very common bird, and some kinds of pigeons are found in almost all countries. In Urdu, it is called kabutar. There are three wild kinds in England, wood pigeon or “cushat”; the rock-dove (for the well-known dove is pigeon); and the stock-dove, which is found also in India. But men by breeding from the wild kinds, have made many fancy kinds like the tumbler-pigeon, which turns over in the air when flying: the fantail-pigeon with its spread-out tail, the shape of fan: the pouter-pigeon, with a very large round chest; the homing-pigeon, which is used for carrying messages, and many more.
Pigeons are bred and kept for food, like fowls, for they make good eating; and wild pigeons are hunted and shot for the same reason. Pigeon pie is a favourite dish in England.
The pretty fancy kinds are also kept as pets. They are very tame and will feed out of their master’s hand, and sit on his head and shoulders. They are in great numbers in some big towns, where they are favourites with people and are not hunted. It is a pretty sight to see flocks of pigeons flying about the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and coming down onto the street to be fed by the passers-by.
The homing-pigeon is so-called because, however far you take it from its “home”, or the place where it was bred, it will always find its way back there when you let it go. Even if it is taken always by train in a closed basket so that it cannot see where it is going, then let go, it somehow away finds the way back. These pigeons are very strong and fast fliers, as indeed most kinds of pigeons are. So these homing-pigeons are used to carry messages, which are written on small bits of paper and tied under their wings. They are therefore like postmen.
The dove is taken by poets as the birds of meekness and · Hence the saying “as gentle as a dove”. It is very pleas to hear doves cooing or crooning on a warm sleepy afternoon-a sweet, gentle, and soothing sound.