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I have many of the "21 Amazing Pigeon Facts" printed on the back of MickaCoo's King Pigeon flyer and I just received this e-mail regarding one of them. I know folks here can better address this point than I can so I'm hoping you'll help.

What shall I say to this person-


I received your flier entitled "King Pigeons Make Great Pets!" on Mother's Day weekend at Filoli. I was reading the back of it entitled "Amazing Facts You Didn't Know About Pigeons" and found a blatant inaccuracy I felt compelled to alert you of. Under the subheading "The religious significance of the pigeon," when you mention the Christian's perspective, you are incorrect. The bird is the dove. This email is for your reference only for future fliers. Thank you. I enjoyed the pigeons at Filoli. Please find below some biblical facts:

Question: "Why is the dove often used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit?"

Answer: All four Gospel accounts refer to the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan river (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). The Luke account says “And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him.” Because the Holy Spirit is just that—spirit—He is not visible to us. This occasion, however, was a real visible appearance, and was doubtless seen by the people. The dove is an emblem of purity and harmlessness (Matthew 10:16), and the form of the dove was assumed on this occasion to signify that the Spirit with which Jesus would be endowed would be one of purity and innocence.

Another symbol involving the dove comes from the account of the Flood and Noah’s ark in Genesis 6-8. When the earth had been covered with water for some time, Noah wanted to check to see if there was dry land anywhere, so he sent out a dove which came back with an olive branch in her beak (Genesis 8:11). Since that time, the olive branch has been a symbol of peace. Symbolically, the story of the dove tells us that God declared peace with mankind after the Flood purged the earth of its wickedness. The dove represented His Spirit bringing the good news of reconciliation with God. Of course, this was only in a temporal sense because true spiritual reconciliation with God only comes through Jesus Christ. But it is significant that the Holy Spirit was pictured as a dove at Jesus’ baptism, thereby once again symbolizing peace with God.

The Holy Spirit, when He assumes a visible form, assumes that which will be symbolic of the thing to be represented. At Pentecost, He assumed the form of “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:30) to signify the miraculous powers of language with which the apostles would be endowed and the power of their message. In the same way, His appearance as the dove symbolizes the gentle Savior bringing peace to mankind through His sacrifice.

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

Depiction of the Holy Spirit dove (ceiling fresco in St. Charles's Church, Vienna, 1700's)
The Holy Spirit is frequently referred to by metaphor and symbol, both doctrinally and biblically. Theologically speaking these symbols are a key to understanding of the Holy Spirit and his actions, and are not mere artistic representations.[3][13]
Water - signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, such that in the manner that "by one Spirit [believers] were all baptized", so they are "made to drink of one Spirit".[14] Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified[15][16] as its source and welling up in Christians to eternal life.[13][17]
Anointing - The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit is referred to as his "anointing".[18][19][20] In some denominations anointing is practiced in Confirmation; ("chrismation" in the Eastern Churches). Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew, messiah) means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit.[13][17]
Fire - symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. In the form of tongues "as of fire", the Holy Spirit rested on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost.[13][17]
Cloud and light - The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'"[17][21]
The dove. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him.[13][17][22]
Wind The Spirit is likened to the "wind that blows where it will" (John 3:8), and described as "a sound from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind" (Acts 2:2-4).[

Premium Member
9,476 Posts
It's one of those 'matter of opinion' things :) Strictly speaking, there's no 'scientific' distinction since birds were first classified into species, genera or whatever - 'dove' and 'pigeon' are just terms of common usage.

I'd think the story of Noah and the ark was handed down verbally through the generations before it was set down in any manuscript, and no-one can know how the story might subtly change in the telling and re-telling, or perceived by the originator or subsequent revisers of the manuscript containing it. Add to that the process of translation ...

Wikipedia tells me the book of Genesis is generally accepted by scholars to have reached its 'final form' in Hebrew in 5th century BC, and translated into Greek in 3rd century BC. There were translations to Latin from both Greek and Hebrew, and eventually into English. Then, some claim it was written in Aramaic, from which English tanslations have also been made.

Guess the closest one could get would be if the old Hebrew manuscript still survived and the actual words used could be seen - assuming that 'dove' and 'pigeon' translate into different Hebrew words.

I saw a translation from Aramaic online just now, and interestingly the relevant part says:

8. And he sent one of his pigeons to see if the waters had diminished from the face of the earth.


11. And the pigeon came to him in the evening and there was an olive leaf held in its beak, and then Noah knew that the waters had diminished from the surface of the earth.

Guess it was looking for nesting material :)

Also would be interesting to know what bird species' ancient skeletons have been discovered in the 'middle east' generally, to give an indication of what might have been around anytime around the 5th century BC or earlier. I'd guess at least the pigeon as we know it and the collared dove.

Maybe all the other references to 'dove' just stem from that first one.

I think the pigeon/dove also features in some other faiths?


Premium Member
25,396 Posts
I think it is also a matter of opinion and I don't think one can say for sure it was a dove as there are so many referrences of doves or pigeons-so they may be exactly one and the same. Dove and pigeons are so similar, except pigeons seem to have the homing abilities.

So, in the case of Noah's ark, I believe that was a homing pigeon, as he was trained to come back to the ark.

Also, When Jesus was presented to the Lord in the temple, Mary brought two "DOVES or PIGEONS". It did not refer to just DOVE.

Also, there are many people who have "dove" release business, but they are actually pigeons. People come here many times, needing help with a dove, and it turns out to be a pigeon, or it they need help with a pigeon and it actually is a dove.

My point is, if people these days use the term "dove" (especially in different languages) when they actually have a pigeon, so how can we then be sure that in Biblical times that when the term "dove" specifically is being used, that it isn't a pigeon?

In my own native language the word "duif" means "pigeon", (plural- duiven/pigeons) and that refers to a pigeon. If you translate it, it looks a whole lot more like the word "dove" then the word "pigeon". Lierally translated it means dove. Look at this link:


It is confusing , but you are not WRONG, and you can respond by telling the person it is a matter of opinion and the words have both been used simultaneously, or the word "dove" has been and is being used to mean either dove or pigeon.
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