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Critters of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by SPCA.

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Where Spotted: Byrd Park
Common Name: Pigeon aka Rock Pigeon, aka flying rat
Scientific Name:
Length: 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm)
Weight: 9.3-13.4 oz (265-380 g)
Wingspan: 19.7-26.4 in (50-67 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • Pigeons can find their way home, even if released from a distant location blindfolded. They can navigate by sensing the earth’s magnetic fields, and perhaps also by using sound and smell. They can also use cues based on the position of the sun.
  • Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that pigeons were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago. The birds have such a long history with humans that it’s impossible to tell where the species’ original range was.
  • Rock Pigeons carried messages for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I and II, saving lives and providing vital strategic information.
  • Charles Darwin kept pigeons for many years after returning from his five-year voyage on the Beagle. His observations on the great variety of pigeon breeds, and the huge differences found between captive breeds and wild pigeons, helped him formulate some aspects of his theory of evolution.
  • Pigeons come in many different shades and plumage patterns. People have named some of the common forms, so keep an eye out for these varieties: The typical “blue-bar” form (a bluish-gray bird with two black bands on the wing and a black tip to the tail); a “red bar” version (similarly marked, but with rusty red replacing bluish gray); “checker” (birds that have spots on the wings); “spread” (all black or all gray); “pied” (birds of any color that are splotched with white); and mostly red or mostly white forms.
  • One domestic homing pigeon, a “retired” U.S. Army Signal Corps bird named Levi, lived to be 31 years old. Feral Rock Pigeons have shorter life expectancies, averaging only 2.4 years. However, a Kansas bird was 6 years, 2 weeks old when it was recaptured and rereleased.

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Donovan at Richmond SPCA

Good day, my name is Donovan and I’m a busy guy who is looking for the story on my new family. Can you give me the scoop? I am very curious and like to explore new places, though I am sure to report my findings to you. I hope you’ll consider taking me home so we make headlines for many years to come!

Age: 2 years,
Gender: Neutered Male
Color: Black
ID: 49773372

Adopt Donovan at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.