Today is your birthday – welcome to the World Son! In time you’ll come to know this world as a strange but wondrous place. We are called humans, but we are just one of hundreds of thousands of species that live on this planet. You’ll meet all manner of strange things: some spiky like hedgehogs or sea urchins, some soft and squishy like kittens or mushrooms, some hard like armadillos or leadwoods, some sleek and shiny like sailfish and snakes, and some just plain weird like octopuses and millipedes. But the creatures that I love the most (and I hope to share that love with you) are something else entirely.
A long, long time ago there were these things on Earth called dinosaurs. Today we call them birds. There are about 10,000 different kinds, and they are wonderful! They will be with you every day of your life. Whether you pay attention to them or not, birds will be around when you’re learning to walk, when you’re climbing a tree for the first time, at recess on your first day of school, when you walk out of your first college class, as your wife walks down the aisle on your wedding day, when your own child is born, and even on the day that you die. Ask Mom to open the hospital window – see, there’s one now!
Want to hear something really cool? Your surname is one of the most spectacular birds in the whole world – the Peacock! But because we love birds so much, we decided that one bird name is not enough, and we gave your and your brother middle names after birds as well! Your brother is called Christian Regulus Stephanus Peacock. Regulus means ‘little king’ or ‘prince’ and is also the genus name of a small bird called a firecrest or kinglet. But, Regulus is also a bright star in the night sky, in the Leo constellation, about 79 light years from Earth. For your special name we also sought something that is both a star and a bird (the options are rather limited, I’ll admit).
After nearly nine months of deliberation, Mom and Dad decided to name you Owen Callum Peacock.
But where does your name, Owen Callum Peacock, come from? Owen is a Welsh name meaning well-born, noble or young warrior. But your middle name, Callum, is very special to us. You see, like your brother’s middle name Regulus, Callum has both astronomical (stars) and ornithological (birds) connotations. Callum is the Scottish derived version of the Latin Columba (or Columbus), which means ‘dove’. This is from the Greek kolumbos, which means ‘to dive or swim’, in reference to doves’ graceful and agile flight. In the astronomical sense, Columba is a small constellation of stars between Canis major and Lepus. The brightest star in the Columba constellation is the 2.7 magnitude Alpha Columbae, a blue-white star 268 light-years from Earth. In the ornithological sense, Columba is the genus of the pigeons, the best known of which is the Feral Pigeon (or Rock Dove) Columba livia, which will soon become a familiar friend that you’ll meet wherever you travel in the world. However, the words pigeon and dove are generally used interchangeably – typically smaller ones are called doves and larger ones pigeons, but there is no significant biological difference between them. Perhaps we’ll call you Cal or Kal for short, which has a whole other connection, but I’ll tell you that super story on another day.
ABOVE: An artist’s (in other words ‘my’) rendition of the Constellation Columba.
Something else that you will realize is that many people think doves and pigeons are not worthy of our appreciation, mainly because they are common and often associated with humans. I fear such people may have lost their childlike ability to appreciate the small joys of everyday life and to see beauty in the mundane. I really hope that you will never ever lose that ability Son! But in case anyone ever asks you why, with more than 10,000 birds to choose from, your parents decided to name you after birds as everyday as doves and pigeons…
here are ten reasons why doves and pigeons are awesome: