Dove vs pigeon | Interesting Differences between dove and pigeon

Many use the term pigeon and dove interchangeably. Scientifically both belong to the same family, the Columbidae. Ornithologically, doves are smaller, beautiful, and soft-looking birds, while pigeons are their reviled cousin that is feral and primarily found in gray, brown, and blue colors. But the confusion might arise between white pigeon vs. dove.  

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Despite belonging to the same taxonomy, there is a difference between dove and pigeon. Here we would compare dove vs. pigeon and highlight the interesting differences between them.  

Dove vs. Pigeon– Key Differences  

Scientifically, both are two different species of the same family with a few interesting differences that can primarily be divided into four areas: 

Size and Appearance  

When comparing dove vs. Pigeon, both show sharp similarity. Both flaunt compact bodies with rounded heads, short necks, and thin beaks. The major difference lies in their tale and size. Doves have a bigger tail but a smaller size than pigeons.  

Moreover, the size discrepancy can also vary between species. For instance, the Crowned Pigeon of New Guinea can grow to a turkey’s size and weigh up to 3 kgs. In contrast, the smallest dove can be as small as a hummingbird, with its weight of around 22gms.  

The rest of the species weight and height lies between these two extremes. You would also find a variation in the color of the feathers.  

Diet and Predators  

Both doves and pigeons feed on plants, fruits, and seeds. But there are some exceptions, especially in doves like Quail Doves and Ground Doves, that feed on worms and insects.  

Similarly, Atol Fruit Doves feed on small reptiles and insects. Other species like the Ruddy Ground Doves, Orange Fruit Doves, and the White-Crowned Pigeons love to feed on insects, moths, and snails.  

Regarding predators, pigeons are at greater risk than doves. Both can fall prey to large birds with better dive velocity, like the Peregrine Falcon and similar hawks. The biggest threat to these birds on the grounds is to their nests. Their eggs are often eaten up by rats and snakes.  

Humans, too, cannot be excluded from their list of predators, particularly pigeons. They, including their young ones, are hunted for their meat.  

Behavior and Habitat 

Be it an island or a desert, both doves and pigeons demonstrate high adaptation to any environment. It is for this reason that they are found across the length and the breadth of the globe including the remotest places like the Azores, Reunion island in the Indian Ocean, Places of Eastern Polynesia, etc.  

Places where they have not been spotted, are the Sahara Desert, the High Arctic, and Antarctica. 

Regarding habitats, no real distinction exists. Both pigeons and doves can be arboreal, semi-terrestrial, and terrestrial. They can live with ease in tropical forests, temperate woodlands, sandy atolls and rocky-mountains, grasslands, savannah and deserts, and finally, cities and towns.  

Simultaneously, not all species can live in all kinds of environments. Ranges also vary amongst species. For instance, the Eurasian Collared-Dove exhibits a large range and can be found in China, India to the Middle East, and further to Europe and Britain. Likewise, the habitat of the Eared Dove is stretched to the whole of South America.  

Similarly, a few species exhibit restricted ranges, and a few can be confined to a single place. For instance, the Whistling Dive can be spotted only on Kadavu Island in Fiji, while the Grenada Dove is found only in Kadavu country.  

An extreme restriction has also been seen. For example, the Somali Pigeon is spotted in a tiny area of northern Somalia, the Moreno’s Ground-Dove is found in a small area of Northern Argentina, etc.  

Almost all doves and pigeons are descended from the Rock Dove, which had the largest distribution, from Ireland to China.  

Regarding behavior, both pigeons and doves love to live and fly in groups. The number in groups can vary from 50 to 500. Compared to doves, pigeons are deemed as more intelligent birds that can be tamed and kept as pets. They can also cause harm to humans by making their nests in their homes. Both males and female pigeons feed their babies with their crop milk.  


Both doves and pigeons can make different cooing sounds, but the ones made by the doves are more melodious. Moreover, the sound of the coo can be different in varying situations. For instance, in a situation of alarm and panic, the coo comes out with something as ‘oorh.’ 

Few breeds show unique vocalizations, markedly different from the coo. For instance, the call of the Trumpeter Pigeon resembles a gentle laugh instead of a coo. Many domesticated breeds of fancy pigeons fall in this category.  

Wrapping up 

We hope that you are now aware of the differences between dove and pigeon even though both look quite similar on the surface.

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