The Blue Rock Dove, Columba livia, being the origin from whence all our numerous domestic varieties have sprung, demands at our hands a full description of its structure, markings, and habits. It is not the good fortune of many naturalists to have had similar opportunities of observing this beautiful bird in its feral condition to those that fell to the lot of that ardent ornithologist Macgillivray. As his description of the Rock Dove is unquestionably the best that has ever appeared, we shall freely avail ourselves of it in this chapter, and this the more readily as the admirable work from which we extract, " The History of British Birds," has been long out of print.
"The Rock Dove," writes Macgillivray, " is a very beautiful bird, although its style of colouring is less gaudy than that of many foreign species. It is of a compact form, the body being rather full, the neck rather short, the head small, the feet short and strong, the wings rather long, the tail of moderate length.
"The bill is short, slender, and straight; the nasal membrane scurfy, the outline of the upper mandible straight for half its length, then arched and turned down; the edges soft at the base, the tip compressed, with the edges inflected; the lower mandible weak at the base, its sides nearly erect, the edges towards the end sharp, and the tip obtuse. Both mandibles are deeply concave internally. The mouth is only four-twelfths of an inch across. The tongue is very slender, seven and a half-twelfths in length, emarginate at the base, horny towards the end, and pointed.
|Title: Pigeons. Authors: Prideaux John Selby, Andrew Crichton. Publisher: W.H. Lizars, 1843. Original from: the New York Public Library. Digitized: Nov 10, 2009. Length: 228 pages. Subjects: Nature / Birds & Birdwatching Pigeons.|
By Edward Lear (May 12, 1812 – January 29, 1888) was an English artist, illustrator
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This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF. Works published before 1923 (in this case 1843.) are now in the public domain. and also in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case Edward Lear (May 12, 1812 – January 29, 1888) and that most commonly run for a period of 50 to 70 years from that date.
The eyes are rather small; the eyelids bare, and having in their vicinity a bare space of considerable extent. The nostrils are linear, wider anteriorly, two and a half-twelfths long. The aperture of the ear is roundish or obliquely oblong, a line and a half in diameter.
The tarsi, which are very short, and feathered anteriorly one-third down, have five entire and two lower divided scales, their hind part soft, without scales, but scurfy. The first toe has six, the second eight, the third fourteen, the fourth eleven scales. The claws are arched in the third of a circle, compressed, rather sharp.
The plumage is generally compact and short; on the abdomen downy and blended. The feathers are mostly ovate and rounded ; those of the lower part of the neck all round have their filaments flattened and shining. The wings are rather long and pointed; the primaries, or first ten flight feathers, are tapering; the second is the longest, the first almost equal in length, the third considerably shorter ; the secondaries are twelve in number, short, and end obliquely. The tail is straight, slightly rounded, the feathers broad and abruptly rounded.
The horny part of the bill is brownish-black. The iris of the eye is bright yellowish-red; the bare space around the eye flesh-coloured. The tarsi and toes are carmine-purple; the claws dark greyish-brown or black.
The general colour of the plumage is light greyish-blue, the lower parts being as deeply coloured as the upper. The middle of the neck all round is splendent with green, its lower part with purplish-red. The lower part of the back and the upper part of the sides, from near the shoulders to near the tail, are pure white, as are the lower wing-coverts and axillaries. The primaries and their coverts are brownish-grey on the outer web, the former dusky towards the end, as are the outer secondaries. There are two broad bars of black on the wing, one extending over the six inner secondary quills, the other over the secondary coverts, the outer two excepted. The tail has a broad terminal band of black, and the outer web of each lateral feather is white. The downy part of the feathers is greyish-white, excepting on the white part of the back, where it is pure white.
Among the vast numbers of undoubtedly wild birds of this species which I have seen, I have not observed any remarkable variations of form or colour. The darkcoloured, purple, and white individuals, which are occasionally seen consorting with the wild doves, or residing in maritime caves or rocks, are in all probability domestic birds that have betaken themselves to the original mode of life of the species. As the moulting season approaches, the blue tint becomes much paler, especially on the wings. The outer primary quills are often tinged with brown, in consequence of the bird's striking the ground with its wings when commencing its flight; and the bill is frequently more or less crusted with earth or mud. Individuals vary in length from 18 to 14 inches, and in the extent of their wings from 24 to 27.
TEXT CREDIT: Pigeons By William Bernhard Tegetmeier