Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 452 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GROUP IV: greatly resembles the normal form, and comprises two Races:—(1) " Trumpeters," with a tuft of feathers at the base of the neck curling forward, the face much feathered, and a very peculiar voice, and (2) Pigeons scarcely differing in structure from the wild stock. Besides these some three or four other little-known breeds exist, and the whole number of breeds and sub-breeds almost defies computation. The difference between them is in many cases far 1 The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (London, 1868), vol. i. pp. 131-224.from being superficial, for Darwin has shown that there is scarcely any part of the skeleton which is constant, and the modifications that have been effected in the proportions of the head and sternal apparatus are very remarkable. Yet the proof that all these different birds have descended from one common stock is nearly certain. Here there is no need to point out its bearing upon the theory of natural selection. The antiquity of some of these breeds is not the least interesting part of the subject, nor is the use to which one at least of them has long been applied. The dove from the earliest period in history has been associated with the idea of a messenger (Genesis viii. 8-12), and the employment of pigeons in that capacity, developed successively by Greeks, Romans, Mussulmans and Christians, has come down to modern times. The various foreign species, if not truly belonging to the genus Columba, are barely separable therefrom. Of these examples may be found in the Indian, Ethiopian and Neotropical regions. Innumerable other forms entitled to the name of " dove " are to be found in almost every part of the world, and nowhere more abundantly than in the Australian Region. A. R. Wallace (Ibis, 1865, pp. 365-400) considers that they attain their maximum development in the Papuan Subregion, where, though the land area is less than one-sixth that of Europe, more than a quarter of all the species (some 300 in number) known to exist are found—owing, he suggests, to the absence of forest-haunting and fruit-eating mammals, which are in most cases destructive to eggs also. To a small group of birds the name dove is, however, especially applicable in common parlance. This is the group containing the turtle-doves—the time-honoured emblem of tenderness and conjugal love. The common turtle-dove of Europe (Turtur auritus) is one of those species which are gradually extending their area. In England, in the 18th century, it seems to have been chiefly, if not solely, known in the southern and western counties. Though in the character of a straggler only, it now reaches the extreme north of Scotland, and is perhaps nowhere more abundant than in many of the midland and eastern counties of England. On the continent of Europe the same thing has been observed, though indeed not so definitely; and this species has appeared as a casual visitor within the Arctic Circle. Its graceful form and the delicate harmony of its modest colouring are proverbial. The species is migratory, reaching Europe late in April and retiring in September. Another species, and one perhaps better known from being commonly kept in confinement, is that called by many the collared or Barbary dove (T. risorius) —the second English name probably indicating that it was by way of the Barbary coast that it was brought to England. This is distinguished by its cream-coloured plumage and black necklace. (A. N.)
End of Article: GROUP
GROUNDSEL (Ger. Kreuzkraut; Fr. senecon)

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