Naming the bird

“The pigeon will be doing stuff not just because it’s a pigeon, and it’s a Columbiform, and it’s from a family that has a small brain……It will be doing what it does partly because of that very specific regime of domestication that it went through for thousands of years.”[1]

In other words, the bird that interests us–the urban pigeon or city pigeon or house pigeon or feral pigeon or free-flying domestic or rat of the sky, your choice of street-speak–is a confusion of natural and artificial selection.

Here is a list of quasi-scientific names people have come up with to address this confusion and distinguish the “pigeon” from its wild rock dove (Columba livia) ancestor. All of which by the way are wrong according to the rules of taxonomic structure & biological typology–Columba livia forma urbana or Columba livia f. domestica or Columba livia var domestica or simply Columba livia var.[2]

In New York City pigeons are classified as livestock.


[1] Humphries, Courtney SUPERDOVE How the Pigeon Took Manhattan and the World. New York: Smithsonian Books, 2008. pg. 113

[2] Johnston, Richard F. and Janiga, Mariàn. FERAL PIGEONS. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. pg.15

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Filed under Biology, Public Perception

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