COLUM'BID.E, a family of birds, often comprehended under the general English names dare and Pigeon, and forming the genus coluntba (Lat. pigeon) of Linnaeus. They are gen erally ranked among gallinaceons birds, but exhibit points of resemblance to the order insessores, and have among some naturalists been constituted into a distinct order, interme diate between these. They agree with the true gallinaceous birds iu the character of their bill, and in the soft naked tumid membrane at the base of it, in Ivbieli the nostrils are pierced; also in their rasorial (scraping) habits and blunt claws; but they differ very widely from them in their great powers of flight, which are not surpassed in any other family of birds; in having the hind-toe on the same level with the other toes; in having no connecting membrane at the base of the toes; iu not being polygamous but pairing, and in the male taking part with the female in the care of the young; in their having generally only two young ones at a time, but breeding often in a year; in their double crop, an expansion of the gullet on both sides, in which they differ from all other birds; and in the secretion, at breeding-time, of a milky fluid by the crop of both parents, as in the parrots, with which the food is saturated in order to fit it for the young, which, unlike those of the true gallinaceons birds, are at first very helpless. The number of
species of C. is very great. There is amongst them so much resemblance, that scien tific classification has been found very difficult. They are found in all warm and temperate climates, but comparatively few are European. The Indian archipelago particularly abounds in them. Many of the tropical species exhibit a brilliancy of colors scarcely excelled in the humming-birds or sun-birds. The chaste beauty of the plumage is always pleasing, even when brilliancy is wanting. The voice is very similar in all the species, the cooing of some, however, being harsh, that of others soft and pleasant. Some species are migratory, and some congregate in prodigious flocks. See IlitoNzEwixo, CARRIER PIGEON, DOVE, FRUIT PIGEON, GOURA, GROUND-DOVE, PART RIDGE PIGEON, PASSENGER PIGEON, PIGEON, TURTLE-DOVE, and VINAGO.