Pigeons and Doves



Pigeons and doves belong to the columbidae family and are songbirds. They don't really manage to utter song-like calls but they mostly do their utmost to utter their calls, from dusk to dawn. This article and the associated species accounts deal with wild doves and pigeons and also with the so-called Feral Pigeon - or city pigeon - which we all know as an mostly unwelcome former domestic form of birds gone wild from dovecots. Old ladies love to feed them breadcrumbs and these birds love populating squares and roofs.


As for the birds itselves, pigeon and doves are medium-sized to larger birds with a plump body and short legs, round breast and a small head, which does not seem to fit to the mass of the body. A characteristic identification feature is their slow gait during which theiy constantly bob their head. They can fly in a straight path with clipped wingbeats. 


Pigeons and doves feed mainly plant material such as seeds, grain, shoots, they also feed on fresh leaves in the garden. They also love to visit bird feedings in house yards and gardens where they even feed on raisins, if provided.


woodpigeon Columba palumbus
Woodpigeon on a field


Pigeons and Doves in the Western Palearctic


In all, there are 12 species (including Feral Pigeon) distributed across the western Palearctic, three of them are native to the Atlantic islands (Madeira, Canaries), North Africa and the Middle East, others are distributed from west to east Europe, as residents or summer visitors:

  • Rock Dove (Columba livia) - Southern Europe, north Africa to Middle East
  • Feral Pigeon (Columba livia (domest.) - endemic in urban areas across the entire area
  • Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - Europe
  • (Common) Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) -  Europe 
  • Laurel Pigeon (columba junoniae) - Canaries
  • Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii) - Canaries
  • Trocaz Pigeon (Columba trocaz) - Madeira
  • Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) - Middle East
  • (Eurasian) Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) - European resident
  • (Eurasian) Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) - summer visitor Europe
  • Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) - central Siberian taiga - vagrant winter visitor
  • Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) - northern Africa to Middle East