Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It coo-ed like a dove, and if it coos like a dove, it must be a dove. At first sight, to me, it did not look like one. 


Like so many people, I am imprinted on the imagery of the symbolic dove, the white one carrying an olive branch, which has been depicted in classical art over the centuries. This bird, Which I saw in Jaffa, Israel, visibly, is not one of those.

P1010546 Dove or Pigeon Yaffo 2

The biblical story says that a dove carried a branch to Noah in his ark to signify that land was not far off. I have never questioned, till now, what might have been the true colour of the bird. The connection between the colour of truce and peace, the colour white, is not difficult to make when thinking about the symbol of peace. Might Noah's bird have been an albino, or, could it be one of the many different colourways and varieties of dove we see around the globe today?

The Royal Air Force have a rock dove in their insignia, which looks to me, much like any of the many common grey-ish pigeons seen. Pigeons and the doves are the same family of bird, it should therefore, be no surprise that a dove can have many varied coloured presentations. Irrespective of that, it is a surprise to me, because deep in my psyche, planted subliminally there by all the references, I expect a dove to be white.


Vincent said...

Your post suggested there is a difference between a pigeon and a dove, apart from the word itself, so I checked the OED, and found these:

A bird of the Columbidæ, or pigeon family.Formerly, and still in dialects (dove, dow, doo) applied to all the species of pigeon native to or known in Britain, including the Wood-pigeon, Ring-dove, or Cushat-dove, the Rock-dove or Rock pigeon, the Stock-dove, and the Turtle-dove; but now often restricted to the last, and its congeners. Most of the exotic species are called pigeons, e.g. the Passenger-pigeon of America, dove being restricted to those which in appearance or habits resemble the turtle-doves. The dove has been, from the institution of Christianity, the type of gentleness and harmlessness, and occupies an important place in Christian symbolism: cf. sense 2.

Any of numerous wild birds of the family Columbidae, typically having a stout, stocky body, short legs, a small head and bill, and a cooing voice, and feeding on grain or fruit. Usu. with distinguishing word. Pigeons are generally larger and more robust than doves, but many species have been given both names. Cf. dove ...

Did you take those photos in Israel?

ZACL said...

Hi Vincent

Yes, I did take the pictures myself in Yaffo.

Various discussions have elicited that there is a similar bird in Sth. Africa commonly named a turtle dove, though, I am told, it is not as brightly coloured as the British variety of TD's.

Yet again, there is a Laughing Dove, it's mainly rufus colouration is closer to the bird depicted than other pictures I have seen of this genus. I understand the Laughing Dove is so named because its communication sounds like a laugh. My bird definitely cooed.

The other point of interest to me, is that birds similar to the one pictured all reside in hotter areas of the globe than the greyer varieties do. Although, with global warming who knows what migrations might occur.

Thanks for the further OED references.

Flighty said...

Most doves seen here in the UK are 'stock doves' which are steel-grey with a green sheen on the neck.
As you say most people when referring to them tend to think that they're white.
Interestingly 'collared doves' only arrived in the UK in the 1950's following a rapid spread across Europe from western Asia.
Flighty xx

ZACL said...

Hey! That's another element of information; the collared dove, of which we see plenty hereabouts, is a relative newcomer to these shores. I wonder if they're changing colouration a bit with possible inter-breeding. We see predominantly pale sandy coloured ones and some with more grey contained in their feathers as well.

Thank you Mr F.