Differences Between A Dove And A Pigeon

Doves and pigeons are both members of the Columbidae family and are often mistaken for one another, though there are some key differences between the two. Both pigeons and doves vary in size, color, and feather characteristics. Take a look at the following to learn more about the differences between a dove and a pigeon.


The size difference between a dove and a pigeon is one of the most noticeable distinguishing features. Doves are generally smaller birds which, depending on the specie, can range between 7 to 12 inches in length. In comparison, pigeons are substantially larger, with an average length of 18 to 25 inches. By sight alone, doves are noticeably smaller than pigeons and have a more delicate physique.

Aside from size, there is also a difference in the wingspan of a dove and a pigeon. Doves have a wingspan of around 17 inches on average, while pigeons have wingspans of 25 to 37 inches in length. This gives pigeons a much more powerful flying speed and agility than their smaller counterpart.


Doves tend to be a solid color, with tints of grey, brown, or white. Pigeons also come in a variety of colors, though not as subtle as that of a dove. The most common colors for a pigeon are a bright red, green, blue, purple, and yellow. Pigeons also tend to have spots of contrasting colors on their breasts, with an array of hundreds of different patterns.

This variety of colors and patterns make pigeons a favorite among breeders who breed the birds for show and performance. While doves can also come in a variety of colors, there are far fewer species of color-altering doves than there are of pigeons.


Another distinction between a dove and a pigeon is the feather pattern. Doves tend to have the characteristic “pointed wings”, which means that the feathers near their wings stand upright or curl downwards to form a pointed shape. Pigeons, on the other hand, have rounded wings, which lack the “pointed wings” pattern of doves.

In addition, dove feathers also tend to have a thicker and more “downy” feel than those of a pigeon. This gives them a softer appearance in comparison to the “rougher” appearance of pigeon feathers.


Doves and pigeons also differ in behavior. Doves tend to be calmer and more subdued. They are commonly seen alone or with their mates in the wild. Pigeons, on the other hand, are usually seen in small groups and tend to be more active than their dove counterparts.

Pigeons are notoriously associated with urban areas, where they can often be seen walking, hopping, and even flying around. As herbivorous birds, they feed on seeds, vegetables, and various other plant-based food sources. Doves, however, are more skittish birds who are mostly found in wooded areas, grasslands, and gardens. In addition, doves primarily feed on insects and worms.

Mating Habits

Doves and pigeons also differ in the way they mate. Pigeons tend to be monogamous and will form a strong pair bond with one mate over the course of their lives. Doves, on the other hand, are polygamous which means they mate with multiple partners throughout their lifetime.

The male pigeon, or bird, will court the female by offering her twigs, stones, and feathers to build a nest. The female then will lay one or two eggs and the pair will take turns incubating their nest over the course of two weeks. For doves, the male will perform a ritualistic dance by bowing and fluttering his wings to attract the female. Once the female has accepted him, the pair will stay close and mate.


Doves and pigeons also differ in terms of their natural habitat. Pigeons can be found in almost every region of the world, adapted to live in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Doves, however, tend to be found primarily in the temperate regions of the world, preferring open areas with plenty of trees, shrubs, and plants.

In addition, pigeons have adapted to live in a variety of climates, ranging from tropical to arctic. Doves, on the other hand, are not as adaptable and thrive in warmer climates.


A further distinction between a dove and a pigeon is the sound they make. Pigeons are very vocal birds, often producing a loud and raucous cooing sound. The frequency and intensity of their voice can vary depending on the emotional state of the bird.

Dove voices, on the other hand, are usually referred to as “whistling” because of the high-pitched, continuous sound they make. Since doves are less vocal than pigeons, the sound of their whistling can be heard from far away. This sound has even been known to be picked up by radio stations due to its high frequency.


Another key difference between a dove and a pigeon is the level of aggression. While doves can be timid and shy, they rarely become aggressive. Pigeons, however, can display aggression towards both humans and other birds when they feel threatened.

If a pigeon’s territory is threatened, it will often become vocally aggressive. Though usually harmless, they can sometimes become physical by pecking or scratching. Doves, on the other hand, are rarely seen to display any form of aggression.


In terms of lifespan, doves tend to outlive pigeons. The average lifespan of a pigeon is between 4 and 6 years, while doves are known to survive for up to 15 years.

Doves and pigeons can often be seen together in the wild, though these birds have distinct characteristics which separate them from one another. From size, color, and shape of their feathers to their behavior, habitat, and lifespan, it is easy to differentiate between a dove and a pigeon.


Doves and pigeons are both members of the Columbidae family, though there are some key differences between the two. Doves are usually smaller and more delicate, with subtle colors and a “pointed wings” pattern, while pigeons are larger and more vibrant with “rounded wings” and an array of different color patterns. Pigeons are more vocal while doves are quieter and more docile. Additionally, doves tend to live longer than pigeons, with an average lifespan of up to 15 years. By taking into account the various distinctions, it is easy to differentiate a dove from a pigeon.

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