1 minute read

Doves Pigeons and Dodos: Columbiformes

Conservation Status

About one-third of the 316 existing pigeons and doves are believed to be threatened. Many of these species occupy small islands and have very small ranges. Some species have already been driven to extinction by human activity, including the passenger pigeon and the dodo.


Pigeons and doves are unique among birds in that adults produce a special "crop milk" to feed their young. Crop milk is named after the crop, a pouch-like organ in the adult throat where the milk is produced. Crop milk is a soft, nutritious, cheesy substance. Because of crop milk, pigeon and dove parents are able to feed their young even when there is little food available, as long as they themselves are fat and healthy. Crop milk is produced by both parents.



del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 4, Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1997.

Perrins, Christopher, ed. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2003.

Web sites:

"Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)." The Internet Bird Collection. http://www.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=71 (accessed on June 12, 2004).

"Order Columbiformes (Doves and Pigeons)." The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Columbiformes.html#Columbiformes (accessed on June 12, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsDoves Pigeons and Dodos: Columbiformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, DOVES PIGEONS DODOS AND PEOPLE