What Are The Similarities And Differences Of Doves And Pigeons?

We often get confused over pigeons and doves. Which one is the pigeon? Which one is the dove? Moreover, there is a lot of misconceptions around these two. Usually, we refer to dove, as the graceful bird, especially if it is in pure white color, who is taking part in special ceremony where it will be released into the sky as an important symbol. While on the contrary, we picture pigeon as the one who spat its poo-poo onto our car window. The question is; is that true?

This article may help you figure out the confusion of differentiation between these two animals. Let’s keep going!

What Are The Similarities And Differences Of Doves And Pigeons?

They look alike like siblings… or maybe twins?

No wonder how we all get confused about separating these two because they are actually have a close relation. Pigeons and doves are from the same family which is Columbidae and include in order Columbiformes, which includes about more than 310 species, which are spreading across the globe. Both pigeons and doves look similar, where they have short necks, short slender bills, and usually identified as stout-bodied birds. Because of their small size, they are familiar to live among people and interact with us easily. They are good as a pet, too!

Nesting habit

Both pigeons and doves often using sticks to build their flimsy nest. Their nest then may be placed on trees, ledges, or even the ground. Yes, nest doesn’t always have to be up in the tree branch. There are so many types of nests, depending on the species, just like pigeons and doves. 

Pigeons and doves are also friendly to human. They can also comfortably live and built their nest around people or in human structures like rooftops, signs, or gutter. Sadly, this is also one of the reasons why the number of injured or even killed pigeons and doves because of car or any other human-error accidents.

They can lay one until two eggs at a time. After the egg hatched, both papa and mama will take care of their children. The young pigeons and doves are called squabs, and they usually leave their nest after one or two weeks

The markable thing about them is that unlike most birds, both parents of pigeons and doves produce ‘crop milk’. They feed their squabs by sloughing off the fluid-filled cell from the crop lining, which is something unique and different from any other bird species. 

So.. what is the differences?

There are so many similarities between these two birds. Now, is there any scientific differentiation between pigeon and dove? Well, not really. All of there confusion started because we used to mix up the term of ‘dove’ and ‘pigeon’ and there are too many variation reasons behind the naming to follow. 

In daily life, we often use the term of ‘dove’ to indicate a Columbidae that is colored in white, while ‘pigeon’ is the one with gray, blue, or brown colors; any colors but white. This categorizes of color is not all true. In fact, the color of Colubidae’s feathers can be varied according to their type. 

Besides, in some region, pigeons are referred to the pest-like Columbidae that live in urban cities, or the one that we talked before about dropping their poo at you or your car and getting shout or cursed because of their behavior, while the doves are more described as pigeon-but-with-manners, that gracefully clap their wings to live in the natural habitats and pictured as the symbol of peace and love; something that worthy enough to be in your wedding ceremony.

However, looking up into more scientific reason, or in this case, the ornithological study, ‘dove’ usually refers to the smaller species, while ‘pigeon’ refers to the larger ones. But this is not always the case. Columbidae comes in a wide span of sizes, after all.

For short, there is no scientific way to distinguish these two birds from each other. They are the same bird.

Linguistic differences

Yup, you have read it right: pigeons and doves don’t have any scientific or taxonomic difference. Their difference is no more than linguistic background.

‘Pigeon’ and ‘dove’ exist because both types of birds are commonly known in many parts of the world. They have different names in different countries, but these two names, somehow, are the one that stuck in English.

The word ‘dove’ itself came from Nordic languages, and on the other hand, ‘pigeon’ came from French. From the previous explanation, we know that the easiest way to differentiate them is to categorize pigeons and doves by their size or color. However, again, we keep on mistaken them with each other, like we named common pigeon with both names: rock pigeon or rock dove. And this term stuck with us in our daily conversation. So it is hard to tell which one is correct or which one is not.

Both ‘pigeon’ and ‘dove’ are correct

In conclusion, you can say you are releasing ‘white pigeons’ at your graceful wedding or getting furious over a ‘dove’ that clumsily drop its poo on your washed car. Both correct either way. 

That’s all that we can sum up about pigeons and doves similarities and differences. Turns out, they are so similar even scientist cannot find the scientific distinction between the two. Their differentiation is no more than just linguistic problem.

Pigeons and doves are friendly animals. You can even feed them in local parks or ponds and they will love it. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why a lot of them are injured, killed, or flourished. They may easily get sick over the junk-food scraps that we feed to them, hit by a car, or hunt down by human as food. 

Fun fact: dodo bird, the most popular extinct species ever known, came from the same family with pigeons and doves.