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16 Different Types of Pigeons in the World

Pigeons, the avian counterparts often seen perched on city architecture or gracefully gliding in the countryside, are a diverse group of birds belonging to the family Columbidae. This family also includes doves, often used interchangeably with wild pigeons, though ‘dove’ typically describes smaller species within the group.

Characterized by their stout bodies, short necks, and slender bill with a fleshy cere, these birds have adapted to various environments across the globe. Pigeons can be classified into numerous breeds with distinct traits and purposes, derived primarily from the ancestral rock pigeon (Columba livia domestica).

The variety of pigeon breeds is vast, with selective breeding over centuries giving rise to types with unique features and abilities. From the homing pigeon, renowned for its navigational skills, to ornamental breeds like the frill-backed and feather-footed, the spectrum of pigeon breeds is as broad as it is fascinating.

Utility: Some of the oldest pigeon breeds, such as the King Pigeon, are bred for meat production, while others, like rollers and tumblers, are celebrated for their acrobatic flight performances. This rich diversity reflects the adaptability of pigeons as a species and underscores their long-standing association with human societies, having served roles from messengers to beloved pets.

Rock Dove

Rock Dove [Rock Pigeon]

The Rock Dove, scientifically known as Columba livia, is a prevalent bird species noted for its adaptability to various habitats, particularly urban environments. Typically, these birds showcase a pale grey plumage accented with two distinct black bars on each wing. While their natural coloration is quite uniform, urban populations display a combination of colors and patterns, a testament to interbreeding with domestic and feral pigeons.

Habitat: Rock Doves are synonymous with city landscapes, where they often form large flocks. However, their original habitats include rocky and coastal areas, where they nest on ledges and in caves.

Feathers and Plumage: The species’ feathers are not simply aesthetic but offer insulation and flight capabilities. While wild types retain the grey hues, city-dwelling counterparts can exhibit a spectrum of colors due to mixed ancestry.

Social Structure: Rock doves are generally monogamous, a trait that typically facilitates raising two squabs per brood. Their social nature is evident in their flocking behavior, which is often seen in groups while foraging or roosting.

This bird’s success in cities is largely due to its versatile diet and abundant man-made structures suitable for nesting, making it ubiquitous in urban areas.

Hill Pigeon

Four grey pigeons on a rock

The Hill Pigeon, a bird of robust build, resembles the well-known Rock Dove in stature. It is identifiable chiefly by its tail pattern—a distinctive white band across a black backdrop. Hill Pigeons display a pale mantle and upper wings accented with two black bars, while a notable white patch graces their backs.

Habitat & Distribution:
Hill Pigeons favor rocky outcrops and mountainous terrains across Asia. Their aptitude for high-altitude living is anchored by sturdy physiques apt for such rugged environments.

Thick plumage and adeptness for navigating the undulating terrains of their habitats have positioned the Hill Pigeon as a well-adapted species in its niche. This pigeon’s predilection for cliffs and high perches aids in evading predators, a testament to its evolutionary fine-tuning.

Snow Pigeon

Two snow pigeons perched on a branch

The Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota) is a striking species native to the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Its plumage predominantly consists of a gray, black, and pale brown blend, accented with distinctive white on its wings. This coloring provides a natural camouflage against the rocky, snowy landscapes it inhabits.


  • Western Himalayas (from western Afghanistan to Sikkim)
  • Eastern Tibet
  • Eastern Nan Shan mountains


  • Strong flight muscles for navigating high altitudes
  • Plumage suited for thermal regulation in cold environments

The bird thrives in its rugged environment, displaying several key adaptations. Robust flight muscles equip it for high-altitude challenges, while its feathering offers insulation against the extremes of alpine climates. Two recognized subspecies, C. l. leuconota and C. l. gradaria, demonstrate slight variations adapted to their specific geographic locations.

As a species often found above the tree line, the Snow Pigeon frequently nests on cliff faces and ledges, taking advantage of the inaccessibility to evade many predators. Conservation status checks reflect a stable population despite human interference with their natural habitats. With its remarkable adaptations and resilience, the Snow Pigeon continues to capture the interest of ornithologists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Speckled Pigeon

Speckled pigeon on a tree

Speckled Pigeons (Columba guinea), also known as the homing pigeons, African rock pigeons, or Guinea pigeons, are common across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Recognized by their distinctive plumage, they exhibit soft, satin-like feathers. Their coloration ranges from light grey to dark brown or black, often speckled, giving them their name.

Habitat: These birds adapt well to a variety of open environments. They are frequently found in urban areas as well as cliffs and rocky outcrops in more natural settings.

Diet: Speckled Pigeons primarily feed on seeds. They consume a range of seeds from both wild and domesticated grasses, showing preferences for maize, wheat, and sorghum. In their search for nutrients, they also consume land mollusks such as garden snails and slugs.

Their adaptability in both diet and habitat contributes to their widespread presence and resilience across diverse African landscapes.

White-collared Pigeon

White collared pigeon

Taxonomy and Appearance
The White-collared Pigeon, Columba albitorques, is a distinctive bird endemic to the Ethiopian highlands. It is recognizable by its characteristic white neck collar, a standout feature against its predominantly dark plumage. The bird’s overall feathering may exhibit subtle shades of grey, contributing to its striking appearance.

Predominantly found in Eritrea and Ethiopia’s rocky cliffs and gorges, the White-collared Pigeon adapts well to human settlements. It is common in town centers, using the urban environment while still frequenting its native rocky habitats for nesting.

In terms of behavior, these pigeons forage mainly in grasslands and cultivated areas, displaying flexibility in their diet. Their flight reveals white patches in the wings, providing an unmistakable spectacle and assisting in species identification.

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Stock Dove

Gray colored stock dove

The Stock Dove (Columba oenas) thrives predominantly in the woodland areas of the western Palearctic. Exhibiting a compact body, the species is recognized by its predominately blue-grey plumage, with a distinctive green iridescence on the neck and two partial black bands on the wings.

Breeding occurs primarily in natural cavities, where the species prefers old woodpecker holes. Distinguished from the Common Wood Pigeon by its smaller size, the Stock Dove engages in subtle courtship displays that include gentle cooing and aerial acrobatics.

Protection of woodland habitats is essential for maintaining Stock Dove populations, as these areas provide both nesting sites and a source of seeds and crops on which they feed. Conservation status in the UK indicates a moderate concern, warranting consistent monitoring to prevent potential decline.

Characterized by a relatively short average lifespan of approximately 3 years, this species underscores the necessity for continued habitat conservation to ensure species resilience against fluctuating environmental conditions.

Yellow-Eyed Pigeon

Yellow eyed pigeon up on a tree

The Yellow-eyed Pigeon (Columba eversmanni) possesses a distinctive bright yellow eye-ring. This feature is a unique identifier amid its generally nondescript brownish-gray plumage. Its wing pattern is not as pronounced, unlike larger Hill Pigeons or wild-type Rock Doves. The species inhabits southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran, and north-west China.

Aside from its striking eyes, the species’ conservation status demands attention. Unfortunately, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon has been experiencing a concerning decline in population numbers. Seasonally migratory, some of these pigeons head south to winter in parts of South Asia, including north-east Pakistan, Jammu Kashmir, and parts of Rajasthan.

Habitat & Behavior:

  • Prefers open arid areas and mountain valleys.
  • Usually found near water sources.
  • Experiences seasonal migration.


  • Under significant population decline.
  • Conservation efforts are critical for its survival.

Understanding and addressing the species’ conservation needs is imperative for ensuring its continued existence in these delicately balanced ecosystems.

Somali Pigeon

Flock of Somali pigeons

The Somali pigeon, also known as Columba olivine, is endemic to Somalia, lending the species a significant status within the region’s avian diversity. This pale gray pigeon is distinguished by a mauve cap and a striking yellow eye. It sports an iridescent bronze-green collar that adds to its characteristic appearance.

Habitat and Distribution:

  • Regions: Strictly located in Northern Somalia.
  • Habitats: Prefers arid landscapes, occupying cliffs and hills.

Appearance and Behavior:

  • Size: Medium, with a blue-gray rump conspicuous in flight.
  • Social Structure: Found in pairs or small flocks, mainly as residents or nomadic groups.

Due to limited research, the population’s health remains uncertain regarding conservation status, but their numbers are believed to be relatively scarce. Habitats devoid of lush vegetation, tailored to the dry Somali climate, are where the Somali Pigeon thrives. These birds adapt to their environment, reflecting a resilience characteristic of the species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified potential threats, although precise data is lacking, necessitating further study to ensure the protection of this regional gem.

Common Wood Pigeon

Beautiful common wood pigeon

The Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) is a sizable bird found widely across Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. As an adult, it typically measures 38 to 44.5 cm in length and weighs between 300 and 615 grams. Its plumage is mainly a blend of subtle lilac and gray, complemented by distinctive white or tan patches on the neck outlined with green iridescence.

Foraging Habits:

  • Diet: The bird’s diet is diverse, consisting of seeds, grains, fruits, and occasionally young shoots and leaves.
  • Behavior: Wood pigeons forage mostly on the ground in fields and woods, showing a fondness for agricultural grains.

A wood pigeon is identifiable in flight by its broad white wing bars and characteristic steady wing beats. A deep, throaty cooing further announces their presence.

While often associated with rural environments, they are increasingly spotted in urban areas, indicating their adaptability. Regulated hunting activities facilitate conservation as their numbers are robust, with a population estimated between 51 and 73 million globally.

Bolle’s Pigeon

Flock of Bolle's pigeon perched on a tree branch

Bolle’s Pigeon, scientifically known as Columba bollii, is a distinct bird species within the Columbidae family. It finds its exclusive habitat in the Canary Islands, Spain. The species is strictly endemic, unable to be found naturally in any other locale globally.

Physical Characteristics

  • Overall plumage: Predominantly dark grey
  • Wing feathers: Blacker in contrast to the body
  • Tail: Paler grey with a noticeable dark terminal band
  • Neck area: Hint of green and pink gloss
  • Breast: Subtle reddish hue


  • It prefers laurel forests and is adeptly adapted to its mountainous surroundings. The bird thrives in these tree-heath ecosystems, making it a habitat specialist of the region.

The species is often compared to the closely related white-tailed laurel pigeon due to habitat and appearance. However, it is discernible by its contrasting wing pattern, yellowish eyes, and distinct call—a guttural and somewhat mournful cooing.

Due to its specialized habitat needs and limited range, conservation status and efforts are of global interest, placing importance on biodiversity and species preservation in the Canary Islands’ unique ecosystems.

Laurel Pigeon

Three gray laurel pigeons on a tree

The Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae), a species native to the Canary Islands, presents a unique appearance. It sports a dark brown and grey plumage, with the underparts showing a reddish tinge. Distinctively, it exhibits a paler grey tail with a broad, whitish terminal band.

These birds inhabit the laurel forests of the Canary Islands, an ecosystem rich in evergreen trees. This environment offers food and shelter, which is crucial for their survival.

The Laurel Pigeon is an endemic species that has evolved to live only in this area. Its limited range makes it especially important for local biodiversity. Due to its restricted habitat, conservation efforts are vital; hence, it is closely monitored. It symbolizes the intricate ecological webs found in these unique forests.


  • Size: Approximately 40 cm in length.
  • Coloration: Dark brown and grey, reddish underparts, pale grey tail with white band.
  • Bill: Pink with a white tip.
  • Eye: Orange.

Protecting their habitats is essential for ensuring the Laurel Pigeon does not face threats of habitat loss and fragmentation. Understanding their role within the Canary Islands’ ecosystem is critical for their preservation and that of their laurel forest home.

Afep Pigeon

Afep pigeons above a tree

The Afep Pigeon is a species found primarily within the genus Columba. This bird exhibits a physical resemblance to the Common Wood Pigeon, with a head and body shape that are notably similar. Adults typically weigh 35 to 36 cm long and weigh between 356 and 490 grams. The bird displays a grey plumage, complemented by darker grey wings and tail.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Habitat: Rainforest and gallery forests.
  • Behavior: It is often observed alone or in small groups. It may be seen in flight or perched on dead trees.


  • Diet consists mainly of grains and seeds.


  • Breeding usually occurs in the second half of the dry season. The female lays eggs that hatch into squabs.

A distinctive physical feature of the Afep Pigeon is the red bare skin around its eyes and a reddish wash on the breast. In flight, a pale gray tail band becomes conspicuous. The species is also known for its vocalizations, which consist of a series of descending ‘huuuoooo’ calls, aiding in identification.

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African Olive Pigeon

African olive pigeon

The African Olive Pigeon, Columba arquatrix, is a robust and colorful bird native to sub-Saharan Africa. Adults typically measure between 37 to 42 cm in length and weigh approximately 300 to 450 g.

These pigeons are adaptable and occupy a variety of habitats, most notably forested areas, including Afro-montane forests. They extend across eastern and southern Africa, with outlier populations in western Angola and sections of the Arabian Peninsula.

Their diet consists mainly of fruits and seeds. They forage both in trees and on the ground, distinguishing them from other pigeons who rarely feed away from the ground.

The adult male’s plumage is predominantly maroon, with distinctive white spots on their shoulders. A contrasting grey head, yellow patches around the eye, and a yellow bill enhance their striking appearance.

This species is also recognized by their calls and is considered important to their respective ecosystems for their role in seed dispersal.

Fancy Breeds

Beautiful pigeons of fancy breeds

Fancy pigeon breeds encompass a diverse group primarily bred for their aesthetics and display traits rather than for functional capabilities such as racing or homing. Among the most admired fancy breeds is the Fantail, recognizable for its circular array of tail feathers. Similar attention to plumage detail manifests in the frillback, which is noted for the frilly curls on its wings and back.

Exhibition Standouts:

  • Lahore: Celebrated for its vibrant coloration and robust body.
  • Jacobin: Distinct with a feathered hood enveloping its head.
  • Modena: Valued for its muscular physique and graceful poise.
  • Archangel: Shimmers with metallic sheen on its wings and body.

Elaborately Structured Breeds:

  • Pouter: Exhibits an inflatable crop, making it appear larger.
  • Owl: Dubbed for its facial resemblance to the nocturnal bird.
  • King: Hefty in size and often bred for squab production.

Performance Oriented:

  • Roller & Tumbler: Bred for their acrobatic flight, capable of performing backward somersaults in the air.

Breeds like the Trumpeter and the Nun are also part of this class, known for their unique vocalizations and head markings, respectively. While fanciers primarily raise these and other breeds for shows and competitive display, some varieties like the Mondain serve dual purposes, valued both for their appearance and utility.

Band-Tailed Pigeon

Band tailed pigeon sitting on a branch

The band-tailed pigeon, characterized by a distinctive white band on its tail, is North America’s closest extant relative to the extinct Passenger Pigeon. Found primarily along the Pacific Coast and the Southwest, it inhabits forests and feeds on seeds and fruits.

Physical Description:

  • Tail: White-tipped with a broad subterminal band
  • Size: Larger than the common city pigeon

Flight Pattern:

  • Capable of swift and direct flight
  • Soars on thermals in mountainous regions

Distribution: North America’s Pacific Coast and Southwest forests


  • Feeding: Forages in flocks; consumes a variety of seeds and fruits
  • Social Structure: Tends to form large, sociable groups

Conservation Status:
Given their dependence on forest habitats, the Band-tailed Pigeon can serve as an indicator of ecosystem health. The species remains widespread, but deforestation threatens its natural habitat. Conservation efforts seek to monitor populations and protect crucial forested areas.

Ice Pigeon

The Ice Pigeon is distinguished by its exceptional plumage, predominantly a pale gray, mirroring the hue of frozen water, hence its name. This bird is categorized as a show breed, admired for its aesthetic traits. It boasts a sleek, slightly oblong head and medium build. The breed displays a spectrum of wing patterns, typified by specific markings such as:

  • Black-binding: Wings revealing two parallel narrow black bands.
  • Hammered: Characterized by wing plates with alternating triangular black hammering and base color patterns.
  • White-scooped: Exhibiting wings with triangular, blackish-lined scales against the bird’s base color background.

Originating from the rock pigeon through meticulous selective breeding, the Ice Pigeon holds a prestigious position in aviculture. Its icy-blue coloration is particularly noteworthy among pigeon fanciers everywhere. These birds are more commonly found and bred in European regions, with a history that spans back to breeding programs intent on ornamental diversification. Despite its rarity in areas like the United States, the Ice Pigeon has a dedicated following among pigeon enthusiasts, who prize it for its unique appearance and its challenge in breeding for ideal show qualities.

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