Few other animals are as oft-maligned as the humble pigeon, the feathered denizens with whom we share our cities, suburbs, and if they're lucky, the occasional breadcrumb.
But despite their typically unflattering (and unfounded) reputation as pests or "rats with wings", there are plenty of wonderful reasons to appreciate pigeons.
1. They're the first birds humans domesticated
Humankind's relationship with pigeons dates back to the dawn of civilization, and likely even earlier than that. Domesticated pigeons, also known as rock doves, were first depicted in pictographic writing on clay tablets in the Mesopotamian period dating well over 5,000 years old. Some scholars even believe that the birds were kept by Neolithic man as far back as 10,000 years ago.