Are Doves Pigeons?

Are doves pigeons
  • Post author:
  • Post published:May 13, 2023
  • Post category:Pigeon FAQs
  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Post last modified:May 14, 2023
  • Reading time:17 mins read

Hey there! I’m a proud pigeon parent – my feathery pal Gerard has got me pondering all sorts of bird-based questions. One that keeps coming up is, “Are doves and pigeons the same?” So, I figured, let’s dive in and figure this out together!

Are doves pigeons

So are doves pigeons?

Yes, pigeons and doves belong to the same family of birds, known as Columbidae. The terms “pigeon” and “dove” are often used interchangeably. In general, “dove” is often used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones, but this is not a strict rule. The names vary more based on regional language usage and cultural preferences rather than scientific classification.

So, if you were wondering if my buddy Gerard, the pigeon, is also a dove, in a broad sense, the answer is yes! But for practical purposes, we usually call his kind pigeons.

Understanding Pigeons and Doves

Also check my article: Pigeon Vs Dove: The Difference


Pigeons, like my bud Gerard, are pretty chunky birds – they’ve got short necks and round bodies. Their heads can seem too small for their bodies. They’ve got thick legs and short, sturdy beaks. And their coats? They range from standard blue-gray to some pretty wild colors.

Pigeons are comfortable pretty much anywhere. Though they come from Europe, North Africa, and Asia, they’ve happily moved into cities worldwide. They love company and are usually found in groups. They love seeds and fruits but city guys like Gerard are not above snacking on a bread crumb or two!


Doves, on the other hand, are often smaller and sleeker than pigeons. They’ve got the same short legs and beaks, but their bodies are more streamlined. They can be plain white, but also come in shades of gray, brown, and even pinkish hues.

Doves are more countryside lovers, often found in forests, woodlands, and fields. Some doves also live in cities but they’re more commonly found in quieter areas. They’re also pretty social and enjoy seeds and fruits, but can also be seen munching on small insects and worms.

So there you have it, a quick intro to pigeons and doves. But remember, there’s more to these birds than meets the eye!

Taxonomic Classification of Pigeons and Doves

The Columbidae Family

Okay, so let’s talk bird families. The Columbidae family is the fancy name for all the pigeons and doves out there. This family is a pretty large one, with over 300 species spread across the globe. The species in this family are usually plump, have short necks and small heads – kind of like our buddy Gerard here.

One key trait of this family is that they produce crop milk to feed their young. Crop milk is a super nutritious substance that both parent birds create in their crop (a food storage area in their throat), and it’s what they feed their chicks for the first few days. Pretty cool, huh?

So within this big, happy Columbidae family, you’ve got quite a range of birds. Sizes can vary from the small ground dove which is only about 15 cm in length, to the crowned pigeons of New Guinea which can reach a whopping 75 cm. Talk about family diversity!

The Genus Columba and Streptopelia

Now, within the Columbidae family, we’ve got different groups called “genera”. The two we’re looking at are Columba and Streptopelia. Columba is generally what we think of as the typical pigeon, like our Gerard. Streptopelia, on the other hand, includes many species commonly referred to as doves.

Telling the difference between species in the Columba and Streptopelia genera can be a bit tricky, as there’s a lot of overlap in their features. Usually, Columba pigeons are larger, and many have that classic ‘pigeon look’ – you know, grey-blue body, iridescent neck, bit chunky.

Streptopelia doves, however, are often slimmer, and many have distinctive collar-like markings on their necks. But remember, there’s a lot of variation in both groups, so these are more like general rules of thumb than hard-and-fast rules. Bird-watching can be full of surprises!

So there you have it – a quick tour through the Columbidae family tree. But remember, this is just scratching the surface of the pigeon and dove world!

Common misconceptions regarding doves and pigeons

So are pigeons doves? Are doves pigeons? Here are the most common misconceptions.

The “Pigeon vs Dove” Dilemma: Are They Different?

So, you’ve probably heard people talk about pigeons and doves as if they’re totally different birds. Fact is, they’re all part of the same bird family – Columbidae. What we usually call a pigeon is typically a bit bigger, and what we call a dove is usually a bit smaller. But this isn’t a hard rule, it’s more like a common way we talk about them.

Clarifying Misunderstandings About Their Appearance and Behavior

There are a bunch of misconceptions about pigeons and doves. One of the big ones is that all pigeons are gray and all doves are white. Not true! These birdies come in all sorts of colors, from brown, black, white, and even pink.

Another misunderstanding is that pigeons are pests while doves are symbols of peace. Well, the truth is, both can be quite peaceful and even friendly, especially if you get to know them up close like I have with Gerard.

Cultural and Symbolic Significance of Pigeons and Doves

Pigeons in Culture and Symbolism

Pigeons have been around humans for a long time and they’ve picked up a lot of symbolic meanings along the way. In ancient times, they were often associated with love and fertility. In the middle ages, carrier pigeons were used to deliver messages, making them a symbol of communication and connection.

Check: What Do Pigeons Symbolize?

Doves in Culture and Symbolism

Doves, on the other hand, are often seen as symbols of peace and purity, especially the white ones. You’ll often see doves in art and literature symbolizing these ideals. They’ve also been used as messengers in various cultures, just like pigeons.

So whether you’re team pigeon or team dove, there’s no denying these birds have a lot more to them than meets the eye!


Well, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground here, haven’t we? Let’s quickly recap what we’ve learned. Pigeons and doves – they’re all part of the same family, Columbidae. What we call a pigeon is usually a bit larger, and what we call a dove is typically a bit smaller. But they can both come in a variety of colors and sizes. They’re versatile, adaptable birds that can be found all around the world, from city streets to countryside fields.

Now, having a pigeon buddy like Gerard, I may be a bit biased, but I think these birds are fascinating. Whether you call them pigeons or doves, they’re full of surprises and have a lot more to them than most folks realize. So the next time you see a pigeon waddling down the sidewalk or a dove perched on a power line, take a moment to appreciate them. After all, they’re part of our shared world, and they’re pretty cool when you get to know them.

Are doves pigeons? FAQs

And here are the most often-asked questions regarding whether doves are pigeons.

Are doves and pigeons the same species?

While they’re not the same species, doves and pigeons belong to the same family, Columbidae. The terms “dove” and “pigeon” are often used interchangeably, with “dove” usually used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones.

What’s the main difference between a dove and a pigeon?

The main difference is generally size – pigeons are often larger and stouter, while doves are typically smaller and sleeker. But remember, this is more of a rule of thumb than a strict rule. Both doves and pigeons come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Is a white dove just a white pigeon?

A white dove is not necessarily a white pigeon. While both can be white, the term “dove” is often used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones. However, the terms are used interchangeably in many cultures and regions.

Why are doves associated with peace and pigeons often seen as pests?

This mostly comes down to cultural symbolism and urban ecology. Doves, particularly white ones, have been used in art and literature as symbols of peace and purity. Pigeons, on the other hand, have adapted incredibly well to city life, and their abundance in urban areas sometimes leads people to view them as pests. But both pigeons and doves are generally peaceful birds.

Do pigeons and doves behave differently?

Both pigeons and doves are social creatures that typically live in flocks. They have similar diets, mainly consisting of seeds and fruits. However, their behaviors can vary based on their specific species and environments. For instance, some species of doves are more likely to be found in quieter, rural areas while many pigeons have adapted to bustling city life.

Olga Parij

I have been in love with pigeons since I rescued a baby pigeon - Gerard - who is now my mate.

Leave a Reply