Barb Pigeon: Types | Care | Maintenance | Breeding | Complete Species Guide

Barb pigeons are one of the most beautiful birds with attractive uncommon appearance and amazing personalities.

There are very interesting facts about this bird that you will get to know as you keep reading, as this article will tell you all you need to know about Barb pigeons.

What is a Barb Pigeon? How to identify?

The Barb pigeon, also known as the English Barb or Barbary Pigeon is a fancy domestic pigeon breed developed as a result of several years of selective breeding. They are descendants of the Rock Pigeon. 

They can easily be identified by their color, which is dark gray and sometimes with yellow and lavender mixed feathers. And their ceres, which distinguishes their various stages of growth.

What are Barb pigeons used for?

Barb Pigeons are used mainly for exhibition purposes.

Where are Barb pigeons from? Its History and Origin:

The Barb pigeon is a breed said to have existed in England since the 1600s. The name Barbary pigeon was derived from its original place of origin, The Barbary Coast, which was a 15th – 19th-century name for a region in Northern Africa.

An old art print shows that these early birds have short beaks that are bold and thick and a big coral red eye cere. They also had a single peak crest at the back of their heads. However, these features became extinct when new birds without crests landed in England through the South of France during the Victorian times.

William Shakespeare also made mention of the Barbary pigeon in one of his works ‘As You Like It’: “I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen”.

Charles Darwin also used the Barb pigeon in his studies; one which was published in  “Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication.” He crossed them with Fantails and Tumblers.

How to identify male and female Barb pigeons?

Identifying between a male and female Barb pigeon can be a bit difficult as they have similar features. However, the following are some differences to look out for to easily identify them:

  1. The males appear larger in size and heavier than the females.
  2. The males coo more often while the females squeak.
  3. The males display an attractive courting behavior by dancing around the female. The females show acceptance by dropping their wings down before mating.
  4. Females lay eggs while males can only mate.
  5. The males incubate the eggs in the day while the females continue at mid-day and night.
  6. The females have a wider pectoral girdle than the males.
  7. The males have slightly longer first toes while the females have equal toes.

Barb Pigeon lifespan | How long do Barb Pigeons live?

Fancy domestic birds like the Barb pigeons are known to live longer than other birds. They have an average lifespan of 7-10 years.

Appearance, Characteristics & Behavior

Barb pigeons are small-sized birds in appearance with short faces. They grow to about 33cm and typically weigh about 370grams. The most outstanding feature of the Barb pigeon is the red large round flesh around its eye.

It also has a fleshy covering at the base of its peak known as the cere, which is thick and stout. The full cere is noticed on adult Bard pigeons which can take more than a year to develop. Though the cere might seem to obstruct its vision, the bird can see clearly.

The cere being its most outstanding feature, it is also one of its exhibition features and to identify the various stages of the pigeon’s growth. They are categorized according to their ages.

Barb pigeons are dark gray with lighter colors towards the tail and feather. They can also be silver or blue but in rare cases. Baby Barb pigeons are white. 

They enjoy the freedom of flight due to their bodies like that of the homing and tumbler pigeons. In addition, they make relatively good pets if not being used for exhibition.

Related Read: What do Baby Pigeons Eat?

Types and varieties of Barb Pigeons (Breeds and Color)

The various Barb pigeon breeds are identified by their colors, which are:

Dark gray: 

Those who exhibit this color are often the adult Barb pigeons. They can be easily identified by their full cere which takes more than a year to develop. Though they are dark gray, their feathers may be yellow or lavender with other lighter colors on their tail. They are 33cm in length and weigh about 370cm. They are also capable of flight

Silver or Blue:

Those with either of these colors are also adult Barb pigeons but they rarely exist. They exhibit all other features of the dark gray Barb pigeons. 


Those with this color are referred to as baby Barb pigeons, also known as squabs. They have less cere than the adult ones which will later grow as they mature. They are usually 5cm in length when newly hatched and weigh about 15g. They are incapable of flight because they are too young to fly. 

Related Read: When Can Baby Pigeons Feed Themselves?

How to breed Barb pigeons? Barb pigeon breeding tips

Barb pigeon breeding is not that easy just like other birds breeding. They require a certain amount of care from their owner. The following are some breeding tips to guide you on how to breed Barb pigeons:

Provide good housing:

Housing is a very important factor in breeding which must be well constructed and taken care of sanitarily. Consider the following factors when making a Barb pigeon house:

  • Must be built in a higher place to prevent attacks from dogs, cats, and other predators.
  • Ensure it is properly ventilated and warm.
  • Prevent water from entering the house directly.
  • Construct the house with thin wood, bamboo, or boxes.
  • Each compartment must be able to house two pigeons.
  • Ensure to keep the house clean and dry at all times.
  • Make available some straws for bedding materials.
  • Place their food and water containers near the house.

Make provision of good diet

The provision of quality and nutritious food for the birds is another important factor to consider when breeding.

They need to be served a balanced diet for good growth, health, and proper production. A bird-seed mix feed is your best option. 

For fast growth of squabs and adult nutrition, combine bone powder, limestone, oyster shell, mineral mixture, salt, etc. with their usual feed.  

Give them time to find a partner:

Barb pigeons require enough time to find a potential partner to pair with because they mate for life, just like any other pigeons. This may take a day, weeks, and even up to a month. 

If you already have the birds you intend to pair, it is recommended that you provide a private cage or housing for them, as this will ease up the process. 

Provide health care and disease control:

This is very important. Although diseases in Barb pigeons are low compared to other poultry birds, they can contract tuberculosis, cholera, Newcastle disease, influenza, pox, paratyphoid, etc, and also malnutrition disease.

Ensuring adequate preventive measures is always advised for disease control. Also, involve a vet if you notice any health or disease problems in your pigeons.

What do you feed Barb Pigeons?

Just like any other pigeon, Barb pigeons are typically fed seed-mixed diets including maize, rice, wheat, enamel, legume, mustard, Triticum aestivus, gram, paddy, etc. 

They can also be fed pelleted diets which contain all minerals and vitamins your bird needs. Pelleted diets come in different brands, colors, and shapes.

Vegetables, greens, and small amounts of fruit can also be fed to Barb pigeons. These will have to be finely chopped to pieces for the pigeons to easily eat them.

Pale vegetables with a high composition of water should not be offered because their nutritional value is low. Avocado is said to be toxic to birds and therefore should not be offered. 

The vegetables, greens, and fruits should be offered in a separate container from other feeds. 

Are Barb pigeons good pets?

Barb pigeons are good pets if they are not used for exhibition purposes because they are calm, fancy, intelligent, and loyal. They make great companions for humans.

Related Read:  Best Pet Pigeon Breeds | What Breed Of Pigeon Makes The Best Pet?

Related Read: Fancy Pigeons Care Guide | How To Take Care Of A Fancy Show Pigeon?

Can you eat Barb Pigeons?

Yes! Barb pigeons are eaten in several countries. In fact, the young pigeon known as squab is highly consumed in fancy French restaurant menus.

Are Barb pigeons rare?

No, they are not. However, there are some rare existing Barb pigeons that are identified by their color like silver or blue from the typical dark gray.

How much does a Barb Pigeon cost?

They cost anywhere between $50 to $1000, depending on the seller’s rate.

Interesting facts about Barb Pigeons

The following are some interesting facts about Barb pigeons:

  1. They were mentioned in Shakespeare’s “As You Like it”.
  2. Charles Darwin used them in his study which was published in “Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication.
  3. They are incredibly intelligent animals.
  4. They have extremely beautiful features, thus used for exhibition.
  5. They are good companions.

These intelligent domestic fancy breeds have dual purposes which can be very beneficial to anyone who might want to begin a breeding business because they would make so much profit from selling these birds to either people who want to keep them as pets and to those for show.