(Columba Palumbus, Linn.—Le Pigeon ramier, Buff.)
IS the largest of all the Pigeon tribe, and measures about seventeen inches in length. The bill is pale red; the nostrils are covered with a mealy red fleshy membrane; eyes pale yellow; the upper parts of the body bluish ash, deepest on the upper part of the back, the lower part of which, the rump, and fore part of the neck and the head, are pale ash grey; the lower part of the neck and breast are vinous ash; the belly, thighs, and vent dull white; on the hinder part of the neck is a semicircular line of white (whence the name) above and beneath which, the feathers are glossy, and of a changeful hue in different lights; the greater quills are dusky, and all of them excepting the outermost, edged with white; from the point of the wing a white line extends downwards, passing above the bastard wing; the tail is ash grey, tipped with black: legs red, and partly covered with feathers; claws black.
The Ring Dove is very generally diffused throughout Europe: it is said to be migratory, but that it does not leave us entirely is certain, for we have frequently seen them during the winter on the banks of the Tyne, where they constantly breed in the spring. The nest is composed of small twigs, so loosely put together, that the eggs may be seen through it from below. The female lays two white eggs, and is generally supposed to have two broods in the year. They feed on acorns, wild fruits, herbs, and grain of all kinds; they likewise are very fond of the roots of the pernicious weeds so well known to farmers under the denomination of whickens, of which the Triticum repens, or couch-grass, is the principal: their flesh is very delicious when they have fed upon these, but it soon acquires an unpleasant flavour when they have lived upon turnips, which, from necessity, they are driven to eat in severe winters. The Ring Dove has a louder and more plaintive sort of cooing than the common Pigeon, but is not heard except in pairing time, or during fine weather.
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