How to tell if a pigeon is male or female | How to sex a pigeon

Pigeons are abundant in cities around the world. They mate very fast and effectively, making them a nuisance in areas with a lot of food waste. They mate in pairs for life once they have selected a mate. But, you ask, how do you tell if a pigeon is a male or female?

Male pigeons are larger than females. Their bodies, legs, and their beaks are stronger. As well as having bigger bodies, they have longer and more slender necks. Because pigeons do not have any external genitalia, it is often hard to tell without DNA testing.

Another way to tell if a pigeon is male or female is by watching their mating ritual. Males will blow out their chests and perform a dance routine to impress the female. They will also make a low grunting noise to entice the female.

The Differences Between Male And Female Pigeons

Pigeons are quite sexually dimorphic, meaning their bodies differ depending on their gender. A lot of animals have sexual dimorphism as an adaptation that helps them reproduce or live more efficiently in their environment.  


Male pigeons are larger because they often fight over females. Pigeons with a genetic disposition to be larger have an advantage over the smaller pigeons in fights. Therefore, larger pigeons are more able to reproduce than smaller ones. 

This is an example of a genetic trait being passed down due to selective breeding. Now, all-male pigeons are larger than females for this reason.

Even though they differ in size, that size is still surprisingly small. An average adult pigeon weighs just 326g—just over ⅔ of a bag of sugar. For this reason, it is sometimes hard to see a slight difference in size. 


Both female and male pigeons will make a cooing noise. However, males tend to be more vocal. Males tend also to bow their heads as they coo. This is thought to be part of the mating ritual, as they move around to impress the females. 


As mentioned above, the way pigeons interact with each other will give away their gender. If two pigeons are fighting, then they are most probably both male. This is because only males fight each other over females. Females are less likely to fight unless very hungry or frightened.

Males perform an intricate mating ritual to females when they are looking for a mate. The male will ‘inflate’ their body by puffing out their feathers, then strut around in front of the female. You will see this in areas that pigeons congregate, such as parks or town squares.

The females often look disinterested as the males prance up and down with their chest puffed out and their cooing noise. 


In the world of racing pigeons, there is a technique known as ‘widowhood’ in which pigeons are paired and given a nest, then separated. The pigeons will be desperate to fly back to the nest. This is what motivates pigeons to navigate home again.

Male pigeons make better racing pigeons as they are keener to get back to the nest and will take more risks to get home. Pigeon racing enthusiasts will even let their pigeons spend a day together before separating them to make them pine for each other all the more.

For this reason, if you see a male pigeon, you can assume they are a male one.


DNA testing is the only way to know for sure what gender the pigeon is. Other methods, although quite clear will not definitely let you know the gender.

DNA testing is very expensive and will only be used in circumstances where it is worth it. For this reason, DNA testing is seldom used for sex pigeons.

Final Thoughts

Pigeons differ in size based on their gender. You can normally tell if they are male on female whether they are more robust or smaller respectively. Another way to tell would be to monitor their behavior. Males pigeons will puff out their chests and try to woo females.

You may want to find out the gender of your pigeon in order to breed pairs. If they begin the mating ritual, you will immediately know.

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