Are White Pigeons Rare? | How rare are they

Pigeons are a common sight around the world. They are normally light gray with darker flecks on their wings and around their necks. You may occasionally see a brown pigeon or even a white one.

Yes, white pigeons are generally rare. In a normal city scenario, white pigeons are generally seen when they are released during special events such as weddings, political meetings, etc. they as are associated with peace, truth, and innocence in many cultures.

In the wild, they are rare to spot because the white color of the pigeons (either Albino or leucistic) does not occur easily. Their white coloring is caused by a genetic abnormality, either albinism or leucism. Or they are specially bred for their white color.

Related Read: What do pigeons eat in the wild?

What Makes a Pigeon White?

Pigeons can be white based on their genetics. Conditions such as albinism and leucism can result in white color in pigeons.

A genetic mutation that causes the absence of Tyrosinase in pigment cells leads to albinism. If both parent pigeons carry a recessive gene for albinism then the child pigeon may be born albino.

This disease means that the pigeon cannot produce pigment in any part of its body. They have red or pinkish eyes, and flesh-colored skin, feet, legs, and bills.

Leucistic birds, on the other hand, lack melanin-producing cells in their plumage. This results in their feathers being white. However, leucistic birds possess dark coloration in small patches on other parts of their body.

 The main difference between albino and leucistic birds is the color of their eye. For albino pigeons, the color of the iris is pink, while it is dark in leucistic birds. 

Other than these two categories, there is a breed of pigeons known as the king pigeons. These birds are selectively bred for their beauty. They are bred in many colors, white being the most preferred color.

King pigeons are common in some countries. King pigeons were developed in the USA during the 1890s by crossing 4 pigeon breeds.

Do They Occur Naturally In The Wild?

It is estimated that around 1% of pigeons in the wild can be considered ‘white’—either albino or leucistic. But, doves used in ceremonies such as weddings or christenings are also technically pigeons. Called Release Doves, these birds are selectively bred to be small and white.

Release Doves are released at ceremonies to symbolize a prayer being sent up to heaven, or as a symbol of peace being released into the world. Release Doves are supposed to fly home to their breeder, however many are killed in transit or from lack of experience in the wild.

If you see a white pigeon that is quite significantly smaller than an average pigeon then chances are it is a released dove. Animal cruelty charities are trying to stop the practice of breeding doves just to release them at ceremonies, as the birds are often expected not to come back.

How Rare Is It To See A White Pigeon In The Wild?

To see a naturally occurring white pigeon in the wild is very rare.

Because of the rare genetic combination that causes either an albino or leucistic pigeon, it is very rare to happen in the wild. Release doves are white because a breeder has selectively bred two birds together with the white color as a goal. 

Why are White Pigeons Rare? 

White pigeons or Albino pigeons are rare because of 4 reasons. 

  • To be an Albino pigeon, both the parent pigeons must possess the rare Albino gene.
  • The white color makes the birds visible to the predators and makes survival difficult.
  • Albino pigeons have poor eyesight, which makes it difficult for them to see the predators and escape for them.
  • The absence of melanin makes their feathers weak and fragile.
  • Albino birds are culled by the breeders because albino birds are unattractive and they fear that the entire brood may become albino if they are allowed to mate.

If you see a white pigeon in the wild, consider yourself lucky. In fact, spotting a white pigeon is believed to bring prosperity and good luck. Seeing one in a dream is even believed to symbolize freedom and a change in life, perhaps prosperity will give you freedom. So look out for one.

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