Difference Between Pigeon and Dove

Main Difference – Pigeon vs Dove

Pigeons and doves are both classified under the avian order Columbiformes. These beautiful birds are found in almost all the regions of the world except in polar regions. However, oriental regions and the Australian content have the largest population of pigeons and doves. There are no clear demarcations between pigeons and doves based on the scientific evidence. However, the term pigeon is mostly used to identify domestic, wild and larger species with deep-chested bodies, small legs, and small heads in the family Columbidae. The rest of the species with small and whitish gray colored bodies in family Columbidae are called doves. This is the main difference between pigeon and dove. There are about 305 species with various body sizes and body colors. The smallest species of this family is a little larger than a sparrow while the largest species is larger than an average domestic hen. Their diet can also vary widely depending on the species. Some are seed eaters, and the others are fruit eaters. Despite their size and dietary pattern, they all have common anatomical features, and the entire group is quite homogeneous unlike most of other avian families.

The heads of pigeons and doves are relatively small when compared to their body size. Moreover, they have small, narrow beaks with slightly curved tips. There is a fleshy sensitive cere at the base of the upper mandible, through which nostrils open. Fruit eating pigeons and doves have conspicuously large ceres with wide open nostrils. Their legs and feet have clear scales with three forward toes and one small hind toe. Each toe has a short sturdy nail. They possess a well-developed crop and lack a gall bladder and appendix (appendix may be rudimentary). Their muscular body is covered with a thick coat of feathers. However, the feathers are lightly bound to the skin. Downy bases of feathers provide good insulation to their body. Generally, they have colors ranging from milky white to blue-gray and white. Some species have attractive metallic color shades.

The whirring sound of the wings while they take off is unique to pigeons and doves. When resting, they keep their heads down between the shoulders. This behavior is not common to many other birds.  All species of this order are monogamous, which means that they will mate with only one individual at a time and remain with him/her for the rest of their life unless they are separated permanently by any unexpected reason. Their eggs are normally white in color, except in few species who lay brownish colored eggs.

Pigeon – Facts, Characteristics, and Behaviour

Pigeons are a group of birds classified under the Family Columbidae. There is no scientific based evidence to demarcate the pigeons from doves. However, people usually identify species with large bodies having deep-chested bodies, small legs, and small heads as pigeons.

Difference Between Pigeon and Dove

Dove Facts, Characteristics, and Behaviour

Doves usually have whitish gray or light color plumage with smaller body sizes. However, they all belong to family Columbidae. In addition, the dove is universally considered as a symbol of peace.Main Difference - Pigeon vs Dove

Difference Between Pigeon and Dove

Scientifically both pigeons are doves are equal. However, people use following features to identify as two different groups.

Pigeons have larger bodies with deep-chested bodies, small legs, and small heads.

Doves have smaller bodies with light colored/ whitish plumage.



Vriends, M.M. (1994 ). Doves: Everything about Purchase, Housing, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, and Diseases . NY: Barron’s Educational Series. Available here

Dave, K.N. (2005). Birds in Sanskrit Literature: With 107 Bird Illustrations. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. Available here

Image Courtesy:

Ducula zoeae-20051003″ by Doug Janson – Own work. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons 

“ColumbaOenas” by jim.gifford – Flickr. Licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons 

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