All About Pigeons

Written by Lex Basu
Updated: September 29, 2022
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Key Points

  • Pigeons belong to the species called Columbidae, the name of the family of pigeons and doves.
  • Pigeons have been used by humans for centuries to act as couriers, pets, commercial purpose, and even as a food source.
  • Pigeons are highly intelligent and can recognize their own reflection, the alphabet, human faces in a picture, and places.

Unlike numerous species of bird (or indeed animal) wherever you are in the world you are likely to come across pigeons. Found in urban centers, parks, gardens and in areas close to agriculture pigeons play a vital role in the up-keep of numerous different habitats.

Six pigeons perched on a rusty metal chain-link fence.

Pigeons can be found in urban centers, parks, gardens, and close to agriculture.

©Alice Arts Bar/

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However, despite the fact that many people simply think that all pigeons are the same, a number of species can often be found together and although they are in fact very closely related to one another, there are key differences between them including appearance, behaviour and their calls.

Feral Pigeon

A descendant of the native Rock Dove (now confined to rocky coasts), the feral pigeon is now widespread and is particularly common in urban areas. Growing up to 33cm in length, feral pigeons can be recognised by their grey bodies, black-tipped tails and inky green feathers on their necks.

Two feral pigeons perched on a metal bar.

Feral pigeons are recognizable by their grey bodies, black-tipped tails, and green neck feathers.

©Julie A Lynch/

Stock Dove

Often found feeding in large flocks particularly over fields, the stock dove has a more uniform appearance than related species with a blue-grey body and a lack of a white rump. About the same size as feral pigeons, they nest in holes in the trees and can be found as far north as Southern Scotland depending on the habitat.

A stock dove standing in the grass.

Stock doves have a more uniform appearance than other pigeon species. They can be identified by their blue-grey body and lack of a white rump.

©Rudmer Zwerver/

Wood Pigeon

One of the most common and easily-identifiable pigeons, wood pigeons can be found feeding close to farmland and are seen more and more in urban areas. One of the largest pigeons that grows to a length of 41cm, woodpigeons have a pinkish breast and blue-grey body and can often be heard taking-off with a loud clattering of their wings.

A wood pigeon perched on a tree branch.
Wood pigeons are one of the most easily-identifiable pigeon species. They have a pinkish breast and blue-grey body and can can often be heard taking off with a loud clattering of their wings.

Collared Dove

Despite having been first recorded in the UK in the 1950s, they are now common and widespread but are most often found close to urban areas. Growing to around 32cm long, collared doves have sandy coloured bodies, with pinkish heads and underparts and a distinctive black band on the back of their necks.

A collared dove with it's wings expanded in mid-flight.

Collared doves have sandy-colored bodies with pinkish heads and underparts and a distinctive black band on the back of their necks.

©Dennis Jacobsen/

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Julie A Lynch/

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About the Author

Lex is a green-living, tree-hugging, animal-lover, who at one time was the mother to twenty one felines and one doggo. Now she helps pet owners around the globe be the best caretakers for their most trusting companions by sharing her experience and spreading love.

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