Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anhinga - a Weird Bird

Both Anhinga parents participate in the feeding of their young. The adult feed their young the small fish which they have caught by swimming underwater. If I have understood things correctly, enzymes are required to digest these fish, but the young do not have the enzymes in their system. They have to get the fish and the enzymes from their parents. This is how they do it ...

Yep, the youngest sticks its head and neck down the throat of its parent to get its enzyme ladden fish out of its parent's stomach. It's no wonder that mom looks so happy when the feeding is done ...

That's why I find the Anhinga to be one weird bird. But watching all of this certainly provided some moments of good birding!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anhinga - a Weird Bird

I do hope I don't offend Anhinga lovers, but I find this bird of southern swamps to be one weird bird. It is sometimes called the darter, or snake bird. When fishing, only its head is seen wiggling about like a snake.

Anhinga - male

In Florida last month, I watched as it swam, rather slowly, under water looking for fish.

Like cormorants, it has to dry its wings after being in the water.

Anhinga - male
Sexes are easily distinguished. The female in the following photo appears to be near the nest which appears to be occupied by the male.

Anhinga - female
But ... come back in a couple of days for what I find is the definition of weirdness in this bird.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When the Wood Thrush Goes on Vacation

Just like humans, when birds go on vacation they often behave very differently from when they are engaged in domestic duties. Hang on, and I will give you an example.

American Robin

When I was a gullible young boy, I was told that if I sprinkled salt on the tail feathers of a robin, it would be unable to fly and I could catch it. So I stalked robins across the lawn with a salt shaker in hand. The robins hoped along the grass in front of me. They maintained a lead at least eight times the reach of my of my short arms. If I managed to close the distance to seven times the reach of my short arms, the bird flew off. Often the flight was only a few feet. The robin would resume hopping, and listening, and probing for worms. I never caught a robin, but I did absorb its characteristic walk-hop. Even in dark light when I cannot see our robin’s gray back or rust-red breast, I can recognize the bird when it flies down from its hidden nest in the tree branches or shrubbery and goes looking-hopping for worms or grubs on a grassy lawn.

Clay-colored Robin (Thrush)

So ... early this month I was at a jungle lodge in Belize in Central America. I saw a bird hopping along a grassy area which was the size and shape of a robin. I knew my (North) American Robin intimately and was able to recognize a relative. I had no difficulty identifying the brown bird as a Clay-colored Robin, or Thrush. Remember that the American Robin is a member of the thrush family (Turdidae).

Soon after seeing the Clay-colored Robin, I stood on a walkway when another thrush hopped from beneath some bushes and began scratching with its beak in the dirt. It was about six feet from me. It cocked its head, maybe looking for a creepy-crawlie in the dirt, or maybe assessing my presence. It had a beautiful brown back. It flew to a low branch, perching so I could see its bright white breast with big brown spots. My aging computer system sputtered for a few moments and then spit out “Wood Thrush.”

Wood Thrush

During my vacation in Belize, I had many opportunities to watch the vacationing (more correctly, wintering) Wood Thrush. The behavior of the Wood Thrush in its wintering habitat is completely different from what we observe when it is in our woods and engaged in its domestic activities.

The Wood Thrush I am accustomed to is a shy, woodland bird. Last year, I spent a couple of long mornings walking the trail up Mt. Wantastiquet. I wanted to photograph the Wood Thrush. I heard it singing. The ethereal, flute-like song - inadequately rendered as “ee-oh-Lay” - carried through the dark forest understory. When the song seemed to be close at hand, I searched the mid-level branches. With patience I managed a few photographs of the Wood Thrush hidden in dark shadows, or back-lit and silhouetted on a branch. One even paused on the forest floor, foraging in the leaf litter for a quick meal; then it picked up some building materials for its nest somewhere in the neighborhood.

Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush numbers are in decline and there are conservation concerns. It is not as easy to hear or see as it was thirty years ago. But if you spend any time in the woods and you know its song, you will hear the Wood Thrush in late spring and early summer. Like the many other tropical migrants which come north for our protein bounty, the testoterone-driven male Wood Thrush proclaims his superiority in song, and defends his territory from rivals. The mated pair hurry through nest building, incubation, and the feeding of their young. If weather and habitat allow, they may raise two broods in a season. The breeding activities are done with as much secrecy and stealth as possible, because there are multitudes of dangers and vulnerability from predators. It is frenetic activity; it cannot all be done without attracting some attention, and that’s when we get to peek in on the Wood Thrush in our woods.

I am accustomed to the shy and secretive Wood Thrush. Therefore, when I met the Wood Thrush during its vacation and my vacation at the tropical jungle lodge, I met a stranger. This was not a shy and secretive bird. Cautious - yes, but not shy and secretive. It hopped along the walkway, foraged in the grass, and scratched among leaf litter in the same way that the familiar American Robin does in our yards and lawns.

Wood Thrush
The Wood Thrush also did something that our robin almost never does. It visited a bird feeder. Every morning the kitchen staff put fruit rinds and day old fruit on a steel platform attached to the deck. The fruit attracted a variety of birds - toucans, jays, tanagers, chachalacas, a wood-rail.  Other birds visited the forest canopy and sub-canopy branches, but did not come to the fruit.

I was not particularly surprised when I saw a Wood Thrush moving through the sub-canopy branches. Nor was I surprised when it paused on a branch above the fruit remains and studied me cautiously from its perch. But I was surprised when it dropped to the platform and began picking away at the pineapple cuttings and watermelon rinds. A thrush as a feeder bird was completely outside the realm of my experience. It happily dined until another person came on the deck; then caution exerted itself and the Wood Thrush flew.

In early March in Belize, the only sign that these Wood Thrush were just a few weeks away from the journey and activity of the breeding season was their bright and fresh plumage. The breast was white, the spots were prominent, the attire was well tailored. But nobody chased anybody. They did not hide; they did not skulk. And they did not sing. I surmise that the principle concern for the Wood Thrush as it neared the end of its tropical winter vacation was to bulk up - to add fat reserves in order to fuel its long journey.

Wood Thrush

I know that is what I did - add some fat reserves on my tropical winter vacation. With luck, I might be able to burn some of those fat reserves in a couple of months when I go searching for the elusive Wood Thrush in our woods.

Good birding!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wild Turkey Trot

The turkeys continue to come to my feeders, although I have been trying to discourage them. On my lower lawn near the river, some grass has reappeared, and the turkeys seem to be finding something to eat.

In a sign of Spring, the tom turkeys are beginning to strut, displaying themselves to the hens. I slipped quietly through the kitchen door this morning with my camera, hoping not to alert the skittish birds to my presence on the back porch.

This tom was probably the most impressive with his tail fanned, his wings displayed, his bald head a brilliant blue, and his red wattle aglow.

There are stories with the toms that I wish I could tell. The tom on the right looks a bit bedraggled. Has he had frays which have broken feathers? Or has he not gotten in his new feathers? By contrast, the tom on the left looks like he is still growing in his tail feathers - notice how much shorter the feathers are on the left of his tail (as we look at him).

There were at least four tom turkeys who were displaying for the hens; they numbered around twenty. It is early in the season, and the hens do not appear much impressed.

While the toms were preoccupied with one another and showing off for the hens, the hens began to get skittish. I was slowly trying to maneuver myself so that I did not have branches in my line of sight. The hens became aware of my movement, gathered at the river bank, then flew to the other side. Eventually, the preoccupied toms realized that their audience had left them.

With unarguable hormonal logic, they soon followed the hens across the river.

Good birding.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sexy Tropical Birds - Toucans

Some birds everyone wants to see, even non-birders. I call them the "sexy" birds. Toucans are in that category. Belize has 3 toucans. During our vacation in Belize, I managed respectable photographs of all three.

The Keel-billed Toucan is the largest. Most of the time, it was a fly-over, but one did pause at the top of a tree for its portrait.

Keel-billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan

Photos for the other 2 toucans were helped by the presence of fruit rinds on the deck of DePlooy's Lodge. The Collared Aracari was one of the first birds in the morning to come for the fruit, sometimes carrying large pieces away to avoid any chance of sharing.

Collared Aracari
Collared Aracari

During a quiet mid-day on the deck, when all the other guests were off looking for birds, the Emerald Toucanet came for a visit.

Emerald Toucanet
Good birding!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sexy Tropical Birds - Parrots

We returned home from Belize a week ago. I confess, that the transition from the tropics to New England during mudseason has been somewhat difficult, which is why I have been dilatory with my posts. There were a few nice days, but then winter returned, and it looks as though it will stay a while.

Plus ... there were hundreds of photographs to sort through and process. I am slowly getting a handle of them.

In the tropics, there are "sexy" birds - birds which everyone want to see, even non-birders.

Parrots are one of those "sexy tropical birds." Birds of Belize (H. Lee Jones) has ten parrot species. I saw 5 parrot species, and photographed 4. Photos of the White-crowned Parrot were crummy and I won't embarrass my photography by posting those.

Photos of the uncooperative Mealy Parrot (second in size to the Scarlet Macaw) were at least recognizable, though they never gave me any clear shooting opportunities.

Mealy Parrot

The Red-lored Parrot and the Olive-throated Parakeet were much more cooperative and I had several reasonably good photo opportunities for these two species.

Red-lored Parrot
Olive-throated Parakeet
I have no way of knowing, but I would be willing to bet that the Olive-throated Parrot on the left in the next photograph is the male, while the one on the right is the female.

Olive-throated Parakeet
More sexy tropical birds soon.

On a brighter local note, though snow is flying again, the spring migrants are arriving. The feeders are busy with Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds (mid-March is the one time of the year when birders are happy to see cowbirds), and European Starlings. Plus Evening Grosbeaks have returned, and a few Common Redpolls are visiting. A neighbor called this morning to report a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk perching in the pine trees near his beaver pond.

Good birding.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pigeons - Opinions

Pigeons - they’re one of the few birds that almost everyone seems to have an opinion about. After my earlier columns on pigeons, I received many comments from people with a high regard for them, including some wonderful anecdotes and original poetry.

I have not heard from the pigeons haters, those who consider them avian rodents, public pests, and a danger to the health and well-being of humans. Birding friends who sometimes comment on my columns have been conspicuously silent, almost as though they could not understand why I would spend time writing about these birds, or because they were embarrassed that a bird watcher would give them attention.

I will admit that my attitude toward pigeons has been ambivalent. When I see a large flock of town or urban pigeons swirling around roof tops, or notice their white droppings splattered across building facades, the statue in a public park, or the girders beneath a bridge, it is difficult not to mutter “rats with wings.” But when the first pair started coming to feeders behind my rural home, I was struck by the beautiful and varied colors of their plumage. I remember years ago, in the great public plaza in front of Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy, being simultaneously disgusted by the vast numbers of pigeons scavenging the paving stones, and charmed as they landed on my wife’s shoulder and out-stretched arm, seeking the crumbs from our leftover breakfast rolls.

Feeding Pigeons in Piazza San Marco, Venice
Pigeons are feral - domesticated birds which have escaped from their urban dove cotes and naturalized themselves in the urban landscape. They are creatures trying to make the best of the cards dealt them - just as many of the people with whom they share habitat are trying to do. Their lot can sometimes be capricious.

In North America, the Rock Pigeon is one of three species that has no protection. (The European Starling and the House Sparrow, also exotics, are the other two.) They can be captured, caged, or killed without restrictions. The clay “pigeons” used by skeet shooters are a reminder that live pigeons used to be the target of this sport. There are still a few gun clubs that capture pigeons and use them as targets. The public pressure on these gun clubs is tremendous and they do their best to keep below the public radar.

The three exotics are used by hawk banders to lure migrating hawks into their nets. The pigeon is especially useful in attracting the larger hawks, such as the Red-tailed or Goshawk. Banders  are careful to protect their lure birds, but when a powerful predator strikes, wounds can be inflicted.  I once spent a day with at a banding station. When the lure pigeon was injured, it was carefully tended to and returned to its cage. A few days later, when the wound healed, it was released.

In the wild urban or town landscape, pigeons do not have that protection. They are favored prey by the urban hawks. Pale Male and his mate, the Red-tailed Hawks who nested on Fifth Avenue in New York City, raised their young on Central Park pigeons.

There are pigeon lovers in the cities, but most city dwellers consider them pests - dirty, filthy, and disease ridden. In 1959, Tom Lehrer waxed poetic about “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” and a New York resident has written a book which describes 101 ways to kill a pigeon.

We may not be able to end prejudice (prejudice, after all is based on ignorance and ignorance, though stupid, is hard to overcome) - but we can at least set the record straight. First, pigeons may be called “rats with wings” but there is no evidence at all of pigeons carrying plague. There is little, if any evidence, of pigeons transmitting diseases to human. It is true that pigeon droppings are unsightly. Their acidic dung eats at stone and metal and perhaps breeds parasites and bacteria. But ancient Egyptians treasured pigeon droppings as a valuable fertilizer rich in nitrogen. “For centuries in England, only the wealthy were allowed to raise pigeons for food, and the feces were declared property of the crown. The valuable dung was used to manufacture saltpeter, a critical ingredient for making gunpowder.” Part of the contemporary problem is that we import all of our resources, while  shoveling up and dumping the resources close at hand.

“Pigeons” by Andrew D. Blechman (2006) tells the story of “the world’s most revered and reviled bird.” It is as much a book about people as it is about the Rock Pigeon. In one chapter, Blechman tells about his attempts to interview a passionate pigeon lover - Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion. He never did get the interview, but a couple of brief paragraphs provide insight into the connection between the pigeon and the human urban dweller. Tyson was born to poverty and grew up on the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn. “Some describe his existence then to that of a feral cat, rummaging for food and sleeping in abandoned buildings.

“The one thing that kept him occasionally in check was his love of pigeons. Wildlife is hard to come by in Brooklyn. But there are always pigeons. For an awkward boy with a lisp, pigeons were easy companions. Tyson spent countless hours on rooftops squinting into the sky, watching his pigeons soar higher and higher. These birds knew freedom, and just observing them gave him a measure of calm and hope. Caring for them - feeding them, holding them in his outsize hands - gave him a measure of empathy and routine.” (Blechman, p164-5) One wonders how much more troubled Tyson’s life might have been, or be, were it not for the “humanizing” influence of pigeons.

Pigeons were first domesticated as a food source, and they continue to serve that purpose even today. Originally they were a poor persons’s food. They were an inexpensive sacrifice which could be made on the altar of a god or goddess and then consumed by the one who offered the sacrifice. Today they are a gourmet delicacy, called squab, providing “a dark, moist, delicate, and oh-so-tender flesh that can be served rare enough to melt in your mouth.” They are raised and processed in pigeon plants which are every bit as mechanized and organized as any poultry plant. The pigeons  raised in these plants are as far removed from the wild pigeons in our parks as factory chickens are from barnyard chickens, or barnyard chickens are from wild cousins like grouse.

Some of the most passionate pigeon lovers are those who raise and train homing pigeons, often for competitive racing. Blechman quotes one enthusiast: “‘I’m thinking about pigeons twenty-four hours a day,’ he says jovially. ‘I’ve only got one life to live, and I want to spend mine racing pigeons.’”

Others are just as passionate about breeding pigeons for plumage variations, genetically “manipulating” the birds to achieve giant fanned tails, feathers that curl like corkscrews, or unusual  combinations of hues and colors. Less extreme are those who breed white doves, often for dove releases at weddings or funerals. These homing pigeons are Rock Pigeons, but of a much higher order. According to “Homing pigeons are to Feral Pigeons as thoroughbred horses are to plow horses.”

Even among those who love pigeons, there are opinions and prejudices toward the wild birds. But like most issues in life, the predominant color is rarely black and white, but gray. Pigeons will never rank among my favorite birds, but neither can I dismiss them as flying rodents.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Critters 2

This continues yesterday's post especially for our grandson, Julius, who wanted to know what kind of animals we saw during our trip to Belize and Guatemala.

We heard howler monkeys quite often during our time at DuPloys and Tikal. They make a very loud howl, something like a pack of coyotes but even weirder. But we only saw howler monkeys one time, and I only managed to get this one photograph.

Spider monkeys were a different story. At Tikal we saw them several times swinging through the trees, and occasionally even taking a rest and checking out the strange creatures who were looking up at them.

Also common around Tikal was the white-nosed coati. Sometimes they moved through an area in groups of 20-30, with their long tails sticking straight up in the air. This one, however, was snacking on some fruit in a tree.

At duPloys Lodge in Belize, just after dark settled in, a family of kinkajous visited the people bar for an evening snack of bananas. The bartender is feeding the 4 month old youngster.

Here's information about the kinkajou that I found on a National Geographic site:

"Kinkajous live in the tropical forests of Central and South America, where they spend most of their time in the trees. They are able to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction along branches or up and down trunks. The kinkajou also has a prehensile (gripping) tail that it uses much like another arm. Kinkajous often hang from this incredible tail, which also aids their balance and serves as a cozy blanket while the animal sleeps high in the canopy.

"Though many of its features and traits sound like those of a primate, the kinkajou is actually related to the raccoon.

"Kinkajous are sometimes called honey bears because they raid bees' nests. They use their long, skinny tongues to slurp honey from a hive, and also to remove insects like termites from their nests. Kinkajous also eat fruit and small mammals, which they snare with their nimble front paws and sharp claws. They roam and eat at night, and return each morning to sleep in previously used tree holes."

One more photo of the young kinkajou ...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Critters 1

We returned to our home in Vermont from Belize Tuesday afternoon. The contrast was stark - from the green tropical forests and jungles with flowers in bloom to the white, browns and grays of late winter. The snow gauge in our backyard was just below 20 inches when we left; it is now at 21 inches. We missed some nasty winter weather, but that was the intent of our travels.

Even so, we were greeted by signs of Spring - Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles crowded the ground around our feeders. The titmice and cardinals are singing, and robins are clearly on the move.

This afternoon our oldest grandson, Julius (almost 11) talked with us. His first question about our trip was - did you see any reptiles or lizards? Yes, Julius, we did, and this post is for you - and tomorrow we will add the mammals that I also managed to photograph.

This iguana (spiny backed iguana, I think) was at the top of a tree not far from where we were staying for the "beach" part of our trip in Hopkins, on the coast ...

Not far from the Jungle Lodge at Tikal in Quatemala was a small pond with this warning sign:

Lying in the shallow water near the edge was the real danger, a small crocodile. But notice also his (or her) friend. He must not have been hungry!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pigeons and Doves - Symbolism

Venus with a Dove
The pigeons which perch on window ledges and line roof ridges of downtown buildings are the subject of many opinions by the humans with whom they share their environment. Many of those opinions are negative, often rabidly so. These pigeons, officially Rock Pigeons, are feral birds. They may be many, many generations removed from their domestic ancestors, but they are still tamed birds which have returned to the wild.

Archaeological evidence suggests that Rock Pigeons were the first bird to be domesticated, and may have been one of the first animals to have been domesticated. As humans lived closely with the pigeon, they also became intimately familiar with its habits and characteristics, and this in turn led to a rich and diverse symbolism being associated with the pigeon. The pigeon, or dove, often became a part of religious ritual and rites of passage.

While less prevalent today, the dove is still a part of ritual for some people in our modern society. At weddings, white doves are occasionally released. These white doves are Rock Pigeons which have been selectively bred to produce all white plumage. A website on doves explains the reason: “White Dove Releases have been recognized for centuries as a symbolic ritual for couples to insure a strong, pure, peaceful, chaste and loving marriage. Because Doves are devoted and dedicated to their mates, couples wish that the love of the dove be bestowed upon them as the dove is released with its mate. From this age-old tradition, comes the Dove Releases of today.”

Given the chance, pigeons do seem to form long term bonds with their mate, and they are fertile and productive, raising multiple broods each year. They feed their hatchlings for several days with “pigeon milk” or “crop milk,” a liquid that is rich in fat and protein. The chick puts its head inside the adult’s open mouth, causing the adult to produce the crop milk, and allowing the chick to feed.

Aphrodite with a Dove
Such characteristics resulted in the dove being associated with the Mother Goddess, or Great Mother, or Queen of Heaven. Throughout the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean, the fertility goddess, the mother and nourisher, was accompanied by doves. The dove was revered by the Semitic fertility goddess Astarte; it symbolized the Babylonian goddess, Semiramis. The Cyprian fertility goddess (later associated with Aphrodite, goddess of love) rose from the sea as she was born from an egg brooded by a dove. The Greeks saw Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, as a dove. Romans sacrificed doves to Venus Columba - Venus the Dove - goddess of love and fertility. Poets like Ovid described Venus riding in a dove-drawn chariot.

There are exceptions, however. From the early Vedic literature of India, Rudra was the god of storms and prince of demons, but also a divine physician and lord of cattle. I recently saw a representation of this terrible (but curiously benevolent god) with doves perched atop his encircling wheel. I have not yet been able to trace this symbolic association. In ancient Japan the dove was sacred to Hackiman the god of war, but it was a dove with a sword which announced the end to war.

The more familiar Judeo-Christian tradition generally has less fertility and erotic elements associated with the dove, though not entirely. In the Song of Solomon, the great erotic poetry of the Jewish scriptures, the dove is frequently used as a term of endearment: “How beautiful you are, my love, how very beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil.”

More common in Judaism, however, is the dove as a symbol of the divine love. Noah sends out a dove to search for land (a common practice by mariners until the recent advent of modern navigational equipment); it finally returned with an olive leaf, so Noah knew the waters of the flood were subsiding. Thus the dove is a symbol of deliverance and forgiveness. As such, the white dove was the acceptable “poor man’s sacrifice” at the temple in Jerusalem, used especially as an offering for purification.

Holy Spirit as a Dove - Jesus Baptism
In Christianity, the dove is most often a symbol of the Holy Spirit. At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended “as a dove upon him.” By extension then, when artists portrayed the Annunciation of Mary, the spirit is represented by a white dove, “for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

The symbolism associated with the dove is fluid and often has to be determined by the context. Doves may be hovering near saints, such as Thomas Aquinas, Gregory the Great, or Dustan, as a sign that their inspiration comes from the spirit. When Giotto painted Francis feeding the birds in the fresco in Assisi, the birds are pigeons and doves. A hovering white dove suggests the presence of the spirit’s inspiration in the life of Francis, but the larger flock suggests a peace and unity between the saint and the greater natural order.

The dove, often carrying an olive branch, is universally recognized as a symbol of peace. The peace symbol of the war protest movement forty years ago, is a stylized dove, and pro-war and anti-war factions are still divided into the hawks and the doves.

Jesus exhorted his disciples to be “wary as serpents, innocent as doves.” In most cultures, and in some form, the dove is associated with innocence, tenderness, and purity. It is the symbol of the longing for peace and rest, as for example, in the words of the Hebrew psalmist: “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”

Doves are released at weddings. They are also released at funerals where they symbolize hope, the flight of the soul upward, release from the cares and concerns of this life. In western artistic tradition, a dove with a palm branch is a symbol of victory over death. A white dove may be a saved soul, opposed to a black raven caught by sin.

Pigeons - Catacombs, 3rd cen
The earliest Christian symbolism is found in the catacombs, the underground tombs of the Christians. There the dove is not a symbol of the Holy Spirit, but a symbol of the peace and happiness of the soul. The deceased were placed in niches called “columbaria,” from the Latin, columba, dove. Doves commonly decorate these niches. Often these paintings accurately represent Rock Pigeons, the feral birds of the city of Rome whose descendants still fly, feed, and breed freely among the remains of the ancient, medieval, renaissance, and modern city. The shape, stance, and plumage coloration is exactly that of our familiar street pigeon.

Holy Spirit as a Dove - Annunciation
The Rock Pigeon (long known as the Rock Dove) has been domesticated for millennium. It is so familiar in human society that it has accrued meaning and associations that are as diverse as society itself: from fertility goddess, to erotic goddess, to war god ... from the spirit, and the saint’s inspiration, to a banner for street protest ... from fidelity and chastity in marriage to the hope of the soul in eternity. I can think of no other creature which has inspired such a range of symbolism.

Information on Illustrations:
Venus a la Columba (Venus with a Dove) by Leon Bazile Perrault, 1902.
Aphrodite with a dove - Greek vase, Apulian red figure, 374-350 BC. Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, NYC.
Detail from Annunciation by Antoniazzo Romano, Basilicas di S. Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome

Jesus Baptism, Dome mosaic, Arian Baptistry, Ravenna, 6th cen.
Rock Pigeons decorate the arch above a burial niche in Roman Catacombs, mid 3rd century.

Detail from Annunciation by Antoniazzo Romano, Basilicas di S. Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome


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