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Description (adult of the nominate subspecies of the rock pigeon): Diet: Seeds form the major component of the diet, but it varies greatly according to species.

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Dedicated pigeon houses, or dovecotes, were believed to have existed in very early times in southern Palestine and later in Egypt in 44 BC.

However, a detailed and well-preserved Roman mosaic dating from 200 BC shows a dovecote with a thatched roof in which there are numerous flight holes with pigeons perching both on the roof and flying above it.

Predation: The wild pigeon is predated upon, almost exclusively, by the peregrine falcon, a bird that is also found living and breeding in coastal regions.

Life Expectancy: Varies greatly from 3-5 years through to 15 years dependent on many factors, including natural predation and human interference.

The sport involves each participant using captive pigeons, released from several pigeon lofts or dovecotes at the same time, and to lure as many birds as possible away from adjoining lofts using specially trained pigeons.

The captured birds were either killed or held for ransom.

However, it is likely that rock doves were domesticated by Neolithic man as far back as 10,000 years ago in and around the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Characteristics and Attributes: The first mention of the domestication of the rock dove was found in Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets (pictographical writing on clay tablets) dating back over 5000 years.

The feral pigeon has few if any natural predators, with man being the main threat to the bird in areas of human habitation.

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