Pigeons and doves belong to order Columbiformes and family Columbidae. Within family Columbidae, there are five subfamilies consisting of 42 genera and 308 species. Pigeons and doves are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they live in virtually all types of terrestrial habitats. Columbids tend to be stocky birds with relatively small heads, short beaks, as well as a fleshy cere and a bare ring of skin around the eyes. Columbiforms also tend to have short, squat legs and long keels.
This practice of pigeon fancy is generally called “pigeon racing” in North America and “pigeon play” in Europe. The principles of pigeon fancy are intricate and there are a variety of vocabulary terms that seem quite mysterious. There is also a history of resistance to veterinary involvement among many pigeon breeders so it can be intimidating for even experienced avian veterinarians to interact with the pigeon fancier.