D is for Doves & Dovecotes

DI have no personal knowledge of doves, except that a friend of mine has always had doves and they live in a dovecote.  Unfortunately, he’s away at the moment, so I have had to research this post from scratch.  Apologies if I have got anything wrong!



an idealised version of the ‘white dove of peace’

I’ve always assumed that doves, which have been domesticated for centuries were a separate species, but in fact as the best source I have found for anything and everything about doves says:

“As far as the doves that we keep in a dovecote go, these are basically domestic pigeons. Doves kept in a dovecote are always referred to as doves, even though the exact same breed, or even individual bird would almost certainly be called a pigeon if it was kept in a loft. There is a huge variety of domestic pigeons, but they all come from the same ancestor, the rock dove.”

from The Dovecote Spot, which also gives information about rearing doves and building dovecotes.

A traditional Dovecote

A traditional Dovecote

Another source, The Pigeon Cotesays of dovecotes, ” some quite elegant, were all over Europe. While far, far fewer in number today, England boasted over 26,000 dovecotes, during the 17th Century, on the grounds of monasteries and manor houses. They were found on the grounds of monasteries and manor houses because they were an incredibly profitable and worthwhile food source. The rest of us, “naturally,” were prohibited by law from interfering with the activities of our “betters’” pigeons or to erect pigeon houses for ourselves.”

A far cry from the romantic “dove of peace” that is the prevalent image of doves that we have today!

A slice of a novelty soap I sell - depicting a pair of peace doves.  If you click the image it will take you to a page on julzcrafts.com where you can buy this and other novelty soaps!

A slice of a novelty soap I sell – depicting a pair of peace doves. If you click the image it will take you to a page on julzcrafts.com where you can buy this and other novelty soaps!

This last bit is from Wikipedia:

Doves, usually white in color, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves appear in the symbolism of JudaismChristianity and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups.  According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive branch in its beak, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land. Christians used Noah’s dove as a peace symbol.[2]

9 thoughts on “D is for Doves & Dovecotes

  1. I’ve always thought of doves being white and pigeons, multicolored, otherwise they look the same, although some I had as a kid had a different feather structure on their heads (like some different breeds of chickens)…it was a long time ago but it seems like the feathers just behind the head were growing forward instead of down the back. I do remember their names and think they fell prey to weasels.


    1. nasty weasels! It seems that there are many variations on a theme – and we just call the white ones doves – but if you look in any of the sources I have quoted, there are also multicoloured doves too!


  2. interesting that the “dove of peace” is actually a domesticated pigeon!
    makes you wonder where these symbols orginate, doesn’t it?
    thanks for the informative post, Julz!


    1. i had to keep going back and searching for other sites, before I was convinced of this fact – was quite shocked myself!
      there is a page on Wikipedia about the symbolic images of the dove – that’s where the last bit came from, if you want to see if it answers your musing – have to admit, I didn’t read the whole thing. This is the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doves_as_symbols


      1. thanks for the link. It looks like doves where symbols of Goddess religion, with many ancient goddess being depicted with doves. ( from the wikipedia site.)
        so its not so suprising that when christianity and the other patriachal religions came along, they tried to “tame” the symbols of goddess religion and made the Goddess’s Doves into tame pigeons that men controlled.
        Yet the dove remains as symbols of peace. just like Oestre, the Spring Goddess, became Easter.


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