The common pigeon has rather a spotted reputation. Part of its image problem may be overexposure. Almost anywhere you go, you can find pigeons, or members of the pigeon family. In city squares, nesting on rooftops, and cooing in the woods, pigeons live in every region of the world except Antarctica.

Not all members of the pigeon family are dimly viewed, however. The white dove, for instance, has long been considered a harbinger of peace and is often pictured with an olive branch in its beak.

Man has been capturing and domesticating pigeons since 3000 BC. Pigeon pie was considered quite a delicacy in those early days. Later, the bird's homing abilities led the United States Army to use it as a message carrier during World War II, when small capsules were strapped to its back. Fast, sophisticated electronic devices have since put the pigeon out of work in the communications field.

But people's fascination with pigeons, from small boys climbing trees to retirees throwing bread in the park, is not about to wane. In fact, 2,000 years hasn't diminished our curiosity. Pliny wrote of his fellow Romans: ``Many persons have quite a mania for pigeons, building houses for them on the tops of their roofs, and taking delight in relating the pedigree and noble origin of each.''

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