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Temporal range: Early Miocene - Recent
Spotted Dove
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Infraclass: Neognathae
Order: Columbiformes
Latham, 1790


Columbiformes are an avian order that includes the very widespread and successful doves and pigeons, classified in the family Columbidae, and the extinct Dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire, long classified as a second family Raphidae.[1] 313 species, found worldwide, comprise the Columbiformes order.[2] Like many birds, all Columbiformes are monogamous. Unlike most other birds, however, they are capable of drinking by sucking up water, without needing to tilt the head back.[3][4]


The Pteroclidae (sandgrouse) were formerly included in this order largely due to this drinking behavior ("The only other group, however, which shows the same behavior, the Pteroclidae, is placed near the doves just by this doubtlessly very old characteristic."[4]); more recently, it had been reported that they cannot drink by "sucking" or "pumping",[5] and they are now treated separately in the order Pteroclidiformes and are considered to be closer to the shorebirds.[1]

Osteology and DNA sequence analyses[6][7] indicate that the Dodo and Rodrigues Solitaire are better considered as a subfamily Raphinae in the Columbidae pending availability of further information.


  1. ^ a b "Columbiformes (Pigeons, Doves, and Dodos)". Francis Hugh John Crome. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Eds. Michael Hutchins, Dennis A. Thoney, and Melissa C. McDade. Vol. 9: Birds II. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. p 241-246. 17 vols.
  2. ^ [Curry, Robert. "Avian Orders: Columbiformes." BirdNet. 1 Nov. 2003. Smithsonian Institution. 11 Aug. 2007 <>.
  3. ^ "Drinking Behavior of Mousebirds in the Namib Desert, Southern Africa "; Tom J. Cade and Lewis I. Greenwald; The Auk, V.83, No. 1, January, 1966 pdf
  4. ^ a b K. Lorenz, Verhandl. Deutsch. Zool. Ges., 41 [Zool. Anz. Suppl. 12]: 69-102, 1939
  5. ^ "Drinking Behavior of Sandgrouse in the Namib and Kalahari Deserts, Africa"; Tom J. Cade, Ernest J. Willoughby, and Gordon L. Maclean; The Auk, V.83, No. 1, January, 1966 pdf
  6. ^ Janoo, Anwar (2005): Discovery of isolated dodo bones [Raphus cucullatus (L.), Aves, Columbiformes] from Mauritius cave shelters highlights human predation, with a comment on the status of the family Raphidae Wetmore, 1930. Annales de Paléontologie 91: 167–180. [English with French abstract] doi:10.1016/j.annpal.2004.12.002 (HTML abstract)
  7. ^ Shapiro, Beth; Sibthorpe, Dean; Rambaut, Andrew; Austin, Jeremy; Wragg, Graham M.; Bininda-Emonds, Olaf R. P.; Lee, Patricia L. M. & Cooper, Alan (2002): Flight of the Dodo. Science 295: 1683. doi:10.1126/science.295.5560.1683 (HTML abstract) Supplementary information

External links

Columbiformes at the Open Directory Project


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