by Mike Stentiford MBE
NOW, here's a question - when was the last time you brushed shoulders with a Columbidae?
It's probably more recent than you think seeing as Columbidae is the Latin term for pigeons and doves. Having dealt with that wee conundrum, here's another one.
What on earth is the difference between a dove and a pigeon? The answer, in an eggshell is, well, not very much really.
If anything, pigeons are a mite bigger whereas doves, on the whole, tend to be smaller, sweeter and gentler but, that's generally about it.
Putting aside the familiar town pigeons (feral), homing pigeons and racing pigeons, locally wild Columbidae comprise one species of pigeon (Wood pigeon) and three species of dove.
So, what to make of this trio of dainty doves?
By far and away the most familiar of the clan is the Collared dove that, to be honest, is quite a comparative newcomer; it was unheard of until a pair raised the first officially recorded British born chicks in 1957.
Not such good news for the Turtle dove, a summertime species that's declined to the point of near extinction just about everywhere.
That just leaves the Stock dove, a chunky chap that tends to look far more pigeony than dovey.
To all intents and purposes it's very much like the Wood pigeon although, if anything, is slightly smaller.
It also lacks the half white collar of the Wood pigeon but compensates this by its super-white rump. There's something quite pushy about Stock doves too!
They've become rather well known for taking up squatters rights in many an unoccupied Barn owl nesting box.
Doubtful they would do this if the owls were present but it does show how devious these birds have become in 'taking stock' of any given situation - agreed?