Superdove and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $24.95
  • Save: $5.51 (22%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 8 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Superdove: How the Pigeon... has been added to your Cart
Used: Acceptable | Details
Sold by Murfbooks
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Fast shipping. Free delivery confirmation with every order.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World Hardcover – August 12, 2008

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$7.07 $0.01

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$19.44 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 8 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World + Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird + Pigeons (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
Price for all three: $40.27

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Social insects such as ants have long fascinated renowned biologist Wilson. With colleague Hölldobler, he presents this integrated look at social insects, from the genetic to the colony levels of analysis. Incorporating the evolutionary record into the text, the authors alert readers to the relentlessness of environmental pressures on everything that an insect is or does. The authors particularly theorize the adaptive advantages of a species whose members exist as part of a social organization, which emerges in their discussions of preconditions necessary for a transition from an individual to a communal life-cycle. This transition is rare in nature; adding to the amazement is the complexity of insect colonies, to which the authors devote most of their generously illustrated work. Divining how social insects divide into castes of workers, soldiers, and queens; explaining how castes communicate; and placing these successful species within the larger web of life, Wilson and Hölldobler, albeit fond of technical nomenclature, bring an alienlike world to the notice of interested nonscientists, in a volume with long-term library value. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Humphries follows the pigeon’s development as a game bird, a cheap food source, a highlyprized messenger service, and ultimately, a modern-day pest...Humphries succeeds in examining something everyone takes for granted, and proving that it’s worthy of a second look.” (The Onion)

“A fascinating biography.” (SEED Magazine)

“A first-person blend of science and culture.” (USA Today)

“Enteratining and thorough account of the bird’s colorful history.” (Audobon Magazine)

“Accessible and well-researched account” (New Scientist)

“Humphries makes us care about the lowly urban pigeon.” (Booklist)

“A cultural, historical, and biological study of the timeless human-pigeon meaning to a species you once saw as dirty and dull--if you saw them at all.” (New York Observer)

“In prose as clear as water [Courtney Humphries] writes a compelling story of how pigeons conquered the world, while threading in history, anecdotes, and even the way that the birds we now consider a nusance helped Darwin create the theory of evolution.” (David Gessner, author of Return of the Osprey and Sick of Nature)

“Superdove is one of the best natural history reads I’ve had in years.” (Ted Kerasote, author of MERLE'S DOOR: LESSONS FROM A FREETHINKING DOG)

“Smart and affectionate all at once, that sheds light on how one animal’s “nature” can be another’s Fifth Avenue. Reading it is simply a delight.” (Robert Kanigel, Director, Graduate Program in Science Writing , MIT)

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian; 1st edition (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061259160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061259166
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a writer specializing in articles and books about science, medicine, health, nature, and the environment.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
An evolving animal takes whatever it can get and runs with it. For the rock dove, it was us, and our civilization. First kept for food some 3000 years ago, the pigeon has escaped the fate of the chicken or the cow, animals that wouldn't last long without us. The pigeon has made us and our creations its environment--feeding in our fields and at our hands, roosting on our buildings--just as a lion does the savannas of Africa. Courtney Humphries' excellent first book reveals a writer with talent and brains and a very humane touch, able to treat the follies, failings, and successes of humans as deftly as she does the successes of science; the chapters on the BF Skinner, pigeon racers, and "pigeon people" are among the best studies of humans you'll ever read. The pigeon might be so commonplace that they escape our notice, but authors like Humphries and books like _Superdove_ are among the rarest literary treasures, and we ought to cherish them.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on September 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've always thought pigeons were pretty amazing; as the author points out, they are "able to make a natural habitat out of areas that seem hostile to animal life" and thus "bring a bit of nature back into cities." This book answers a variety of questions, including:

1 . Where do pigeons come from, anyway? They are descendants of rock doves that nested in the cliffs of southern Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, pigeons were domesticated by being lured into dovecotes, essentially being given free food and shelter, and being used for message-sending due to their homing instinct (that is, their instinct to come home). Today's urban pigeons are feral rather than wild- that is, they are descendants of these domesticated pigeons.
2. Why are pigeons so comfortable in cities? First, habitat. The windows, porches and ledges of cities are similar (in a pigeon's eyes) to their native cliffs. Second, food. Humans tend to eat (and throw away) a lot of grain-based food- by coincidence the perfect pigeon diet. Third, because urban pigeons are descendants of domesticated ones, they have been bred to be less skittish around humans than some wild birds.
3. Why don't we eat more pigeons? Although pigeons breed rapidly enough to survive (and occasionally be eaten though usually as "squab") they don't breed nearly as rapidly as chickens. A hen can lay 200 eggs a year; pigeons are much less productive and waste valuable egg-laying time nurturing their young, since pigeon young are much more dependent on their parents than chicks. Thus, a farmer simply cannot churn out as many pigeons as chickens.
4. How smart are pigeons? In some ways, not so much. They have small brains, and don't solve puzzles or use tools.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In _Stardust Memories_ of 1980, Woody Allen memorably called pigeons "rats with wings", summarizing how many urban dwellers think of them. Every city has pigeons, and this is just as much because of human nature as pigeon nature. In _Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan... and the World_ (Smithsonian Books), Courtney Humphries has presented a comprehensive look at this common bird (some would, of course, say common pest), but unlike a typical ornithological evaluation, this has to take in not just the natural history and evolution of the bird, but also the geography, history, and culture of the humans who have invited it to live in cities and indeed have shaped it to be able to do so. It's not the sort of bird you'd expect to see in, for instance, a special on the Nature Channel. "The pigeon is not the smartest bird, Humphries says, "nor the fastest, nor the prettiest, and it is certainly not the rarest. But it is capable of so much. More specialized birds might illustrate the limits of evolution, but pigeons show us its breadth." Pigeons show a widespread competence, rather than exploiting specialized expertise, and their interactions with us show a lot about human nature.

Pigeons are also called rock doves (and have recently been officially denominated "rock pigeons"), and indeed there is essentially no species difference between a dove and a pigeon. There are so many forms of pigeon because they were domesticated around five thousand years ago, probably the first domesticated birds. The birds were kept as a food source in dovecotes, and so began their long history of exploiting a niche in between full domestication and life in the wild.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover
We are all familiar with pigeons - I see a few dozen every day while living in Manhattan - but few people know about the history of the pigeon and how it is such an amazing bird! I learned so many interesting things from this book - how Reuters News started with pigeon carriers, how scientists still don't know how a pigeon can find his way home, and how pigeons perform many tasks better than most humans!

I find myself actually watching the pigeons in Manhattan now, instead of just passing them by unnoticed or seeing them as a nuisance. "SuperDove" has changed the way I view Manhattan, pigeons, and other birds like Ravens and Crows. Also, I sent an email to the author complimenting her on the book, and she sent a very nice response - I always like when authors take the time to respond to my comments. . .it makes reading the book an even more pleasurable experience.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World
This item: Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World
Price: $19.44
Ships from and sold by

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: killing pigeons