Discover The Surprising Truth Behind Pigeons and Dove: Are They Really the Same?”

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More than a dozen species of pigeons and doves may be found throughout the United States and Canada. Both the dove and the pigeon are related to the over 300 species of birds that make up the Columbidae family, of which 13 are said to be extinct.

Everyone has their own way for defining what sets them apart. Furthermore, there is no scientific distinction between the two birds, therefore they are technically the same.

So, why do we use two different names for the same bird, and how can we tell the difference among a “dove” and a “pigeon”?

What is the difference between Dove and Pigeon

Pigeons and doves bring to mind two quite distinct types of birds, I’m sure it happens to you as well.

Doves are commonly depicted as pure white birds, and the very name “Dove” has come to symbolize international harmony.

When it comes to birds, the Columbidae family is where you’ll find pigeons and doves. The Columbidae family has about 300 species. Except for Antarctica, the high Arctic, and the driest sections of the Sahara desert, they can be found wherever.

Pigeons and doves have tiny, rounded heads and short bills. They also have small legs, compact bodies, tapering wings, and delicate feathers. They all consume the same kind of fruit and seeds and make similar fragile nests.

The Appearance

While doves and pigeons are both members of the same bird family, doves are normally smaller than pigeons. The second major distinction is that pigeons have a straighter tail, whilst doves have a more fanned out tail.

The New World Ground Dove is the smallest breed, measuring as little as 5 inches and weighing less than an ounce. The majority of the biological diversity between doves and pigeons is thought to be in their size and tails. Having lengths ranging between 6 to 30 inches, there is a significant size difference within the entire spectrum of species. The largest species is the New Guinea Crowned Pigeon. This weights 4 to 9 pounds.

In comparison to their overall size, the wings of several breeds have 11 huge feathers. Because of their low wing loading, they are known for being excellent and, in some cases, acrobatic fliers.

Although the most typical picture of a dove is of a gorgeous white bird with a fanned tail, doves are not always white.

In reality, their hues can range from grey to brown to white with varied patterns, precisely like pigeons’ looks.

However, when it comes to tails, it is generally doves who prevail. Doves often have the larger, more expressive tails compared to fancy pigeon species like the American & Indian fantail pigeons. While frugivorous have more vibrantly colored feathers, granivorous animals often have duller plumage.

Food and Diet

  • Granivorous and frugivorous are categorized according to their preferred forms of food. These result in certain anatomical variations.
  • Gizzard walls are thicker in granivorous.
  • Additionally, they have longer intestines than frugivorous do.
  • The gizzards of granivorous have thicker walls than those of frugivorous, and their intestines are similarly longer.
  • Another physical adaptation that allows diet is the ability of frugivorous to cling to branches and hang upside down to obtain fruit. Although far lower in number, several species eat food other than seeds and fruit.
  • Worms and insects, for example, are consumed by quail doves and ground doves.
  • The Atoll Fruit Dove enjoys on tiny reptiles and insects.
  • Other species, notably Ruddy Ground Doves, feed on insects, moths, slugs, and snails.

The Human Bonding

When you throw some food at them. Most of the time, though the pigeons will rush for it but they could still be wary.

Doves, on the other hand, are less fearful when humans approach them. The key distinction is that doves are normally maintained in captivity, whilst pigeons are seen in the wild.

Predators Choice

Pigeons are vulnerable to larger birds with faster dive rates, such as the Peregrine Falcon and other hawks. This also pertains to doves, however the “ground” species are vulnerable to rodents and snakes eating their eggs. Additionally, humans might be viewed as one of their predators, especially for common pigeons.

Living Habits

Habitats are identical to one another. They may dwell in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannahs, deserts, woods, forests, and cities.

All members of the Columbidae family can be either arboreal, semi-arid, or terrestrial.

In addition to towns and cities, they may dwell in temperate woodlands, tropical forests, rocky mountains, sand atolls, grasslands, savannahs, and deserts.

Although they may be found in every area, each species has a different range. Some have incredibly wide ranges.

Pigeon & Doves Lifespan

Pigeons and Doves in captivity may survive somewhere between 10 to 15 years on average. You may be excited to read more on our detailed article on Pigeons lifespan.

Similarities of Pigeons and Doves

As there are many various breeds of the Columbidae species, there are exceptions to these guidelines. Some have evolved different sounds, while others have acquired elaborate feathers in certain locations, such the frill backs and fantails. But fundamentally, they all have the same qualities. Pigeons and doves share certain similar features.

Following are some of the similar behaviors among both:

  • They follow the same eating pattern of fruit and seeds.
  • All breeds create nests that are rather fragile.
  • In terms of food, there are some differences in that the various species may be classified as either granivorous or frugivorous. Both sexes also produce crop milk to nourish the young.
  • One or two eggs are laid in each clutch, and both parents are responsible for their upkeep.
  • Granivorous animals consume seeds and usually forage on the ground.
  • Fruit and meat-eating frugivorous animals generally feed in trees.

The apparent distinctions between doves and pigeons are fundamentally divided into below categories, some of which have already been mentioned:

Can doves and pigeons mate with each other?

The only significant difference between the species is that they have a different number of chromosomes, which allows the dove and the pigeon to physically mate but results in infertility unless artificial insemination is used.

White Pigeons Vs Doves

In reality, white pigeons are domesticated pigeons which the “dove release” industry promotes to as “doves” in an effort to take advantage of the positive perception people have had of doves while also exploiting pigeons’ homing abilities.

Homing Pigeons, which have been bred to be fully white, small, and dove-like, are normally what are meant when you hear the terms “dove release” or “wedding doves,” and they are usually rented and ceremoniously released.


Nothing formally states that they are distinct from one another. There is no scientific or biological distinction between pigeons and doves. However, there are several theories about how the two species differ. The biggest distinction is in the language customs; you may now inform people that you are feeding doves in the park or releasing pigeons at your wedding. In terms of science, you’ll be right either way.

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