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Pigeons and Doves

Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
see article text
Pigeon beside Weiming Lake, Peking University (2002)
Pigeon beside Weiming Lake, Peking University (2002)

Pigeons and doves are some 300 species of near passerine birds in the order Columbiformes. In general parlance the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common names for these birds involve much variation between "dove" and "pigeon".

The species commonly referred to just as the "pigeon" is the feral Rock Pigeon, common in many cities.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

The usually flimsy nests are made of sticks, and the two white eggs are incubated by both sexes. Doves feed on seeds, fruit and other soft plantstuff. Unlike most other birds, (but see flamingo), the doves and pigeons produce "crop milk", which is secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Both sexes produce this highly nutritious substance to feed to the young.

This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. It is related to the extinct dodo. The young doves and pigeons are called "squabs".


Systematics and evolution

The family is usually divided into five subfamilies, but this is probably inaccurate. For example, the American ground and quail doves which are usually placed in the Columbinae seem to be two distinct subfamilies[1]. The order presented here follows Baptista et al. (1997) with some updates (Johnson & Clayton, 2000; Johnson et al., 2001; Shapiro et al., 2002)...

Note that the arrangement of genera and naming of subfamilies is in some cases provisional because analyses of different DNA sequences yield results that differ, often radically, in the placement of certain (mainly Indo-Australian) genera. This ambiguity, probably caused by Long branch attraction, on the other hand seems to confirm that the first pigeons evolved in the Australasian region, and that the "Treronidae" and allied forms (crowned and pheasant pigeons, for example) represent the earliest radiation of the group.

Exacerbating these issues, columbids are not well represented in the fossil record. No really primitive forms have been found to date. The genus Gerandia which most likely belongs to the Columbinae has been described from Early Miocene deposits of France. Apart from that, all other fossils belong to extant genera. For these, and for the considerable number of more recently extinct prehistoric species, see the respective genus accounts.

Subfamily Columbinae - typical pigeons & doves

A feral pigeon  Columba livia domestica in a city park.
A feral pigeon Columba livia domestica in a city park.

Genus Columba (Old World pigeons)

  • Rock Pigeon, Columba livia
    • Domestic pigeon or feral pigeon, Columba livia domestica
  • Stock Pigeon, Columba oenas
    Trocaz Pigeon, Columba trocaz
    Bolle's Pigeon, Columba bollii
    Laurel Pigeon, Columba junoniae
    Hill Pigeon, Columba rupestris
    Snow Pigeon, Columba leuconota
    Speckled Pigeon, Columba guinea
    White-collared Pigeon, Columba albitorques
    Pale-backed Pigeon, Columba eversmanni
    Somali Pigeon, Columba oliviae
    Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus
    Afep Pigeon, Columba unicincta
    African Olive Pigeon, Columba arquatrix
    Cameroon Olive Pigeon, Columba sjostedti
    Sao Tome Olive Pigeon, Columba thomensis
    Comoro Olive Pigeon, Columba polleni
    Speckled Wood-pigeon, Columba hodgsonii
    White-naped Pigeon, Columba albinucha
    Ashy Wood-pigeon, Columba pulchricollis
    Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Columba elphinstonii
White-headed pigeon, Columba leucomela.
White-headed pigeon, Columba leucomela.
  • Sri Lanka Wood-pigeon, Columba torringtoni
    Pale-capped Pigeon, Columba punicea
    Silvery Pigeon, Columba argentina (possibly extinct)
    Andaman Wood-pigeon, Columba palumboides
    Japanese Wood-pigeon, Columba janthina
    Bonin Wood-pigeon, Columba versicolor (extinct)
    Ryukyu Wood-pigeon, Columba jouyi (extinct)
    Metallic Pigeon or White-throated Pigeon, Columba vitiensis
    White-headed Pigeon, Columba leucomela
    Yellow-legged Pigeon, Columba pallidiceps
Feral pigeons in Kraków, Poland.
Feral pigeons in Kraków, Poland.
  • Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Columba delegorguei
    Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Columba iriditorques
    Sao Tome Bronze-naped Pigeon, Columba malherbii
    African Lemon-dove, Columba larvata
    Sao Tome Lemon-dove, Columba simplex
Barbary Dove (or Domestic Ringneck), Streptopelia risoria, native to South Africa.
Barbary Dove (or Domestic Ringneck), Streptopelia risoria, native to South Africa.

Genus Streptopelia (turtledoves)

  • Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis (may be distinct genus Stigmatopelia)
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis (may be distinct genus Stigmatopelia)
    Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
    Barbary Dove Streptopelia risoria (domesticated; taxonomic status doubtful)
    African Collared Dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea
    Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
    Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
    Dusky Turtle Dove, Streptopelia lugens
    Adamawa Turtle Dove, Streptopelia hypopyrrha
    Island Collared Dove, Streptopelia bitorquata
    White-winged Collared Dove, Streptopelia reichenowi
    African Mourning Dove, Streptopelia decipiens
    Red-eyed Dove, Streptopelia semitorquata
    Ring-necked Dove, Streptopelia capicola
    Vinaceous Dove, Streptopelia vinacea
    Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica
    Madagascar Turtle Dove, Streptopelia picturata (may be distinct genus Nesoenas)
    Rodrigues Turtle Dove, Streptopelia rodericana (extinct; may be distinct genus Nesoenas)
    Pink Pigeon, Streptopelia mayeri (may be distinct genus Nesoenas)
    Réunion Pink Pigeon, Streptopelia duboisi (extinct; may be distinct genus Nesoenas)

Genus Patagioenas (American pigeons; formerly included in Columba)

  • White-crowned Pigeon, Patagioenas leucocephala
    Scaly-naped Pigeon, Patagioenas squamosa
    Scaled Pigeon, Patagioenas speciosa
    Picazuro Pigeon, Patagioenas picazuro
    Bare-eyed Pigeon, Patagioenas corensis
    Spot-winged Pigeon, Patagioenas maculosa
    Band-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
    Chilean Pigeon, Patagioenas araucana
    Ring-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas caribaea
    Pale-vented Pigeon, Patagioenas cayennensis
    Red-billed Pigeon, Patagioenas flavirostris
    Peruvian Pigeon, Patagioenas oenops
    Plain Pigeon, Patagioenas inornata
    Plumbeous Pigeon, Patagioenas plumbea
    Ruddy Pigeon, Patagioenas subvinacea
    Short-billed Pigeon, Patagioenas nigrirostris
    Dusky Pigeon, Patagioenas goodsoni
Brown Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia phasianella.
Brown Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia phasianella.

Genus Macropygia

  • Barred Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia unchall
    Slender-billed Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia amboinensis
    Brown Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia phasianella
    Dusky Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia magna
    Andaman Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia rufipennis
    Philippine Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia tenuirostris
    Ruddy Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia emiliana
    Black-billed Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia nigrirostris
    Mackinlay's Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia mackinlayi
    Little Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia ruficeps

Genus Reinwardtoena

  • Great Cuckoo-dove, Reinwardtoena reinwardtii
    Pied Cuckoo-dove, Reinwardtoena browni
    Crested Cuckoo-dove, Reinwardtoena crassirostris

Genus Turacoena

  • White-faced Cuckoo-dove, Turacoena manadensis
    Black Cuckoo-dove, Turacoena modesta

Subfamily N.N. - Bronzewings and relatives

Genus Turtur (African wood doves; subfamily assignment unclear)

  • Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur chalcospilos
    Black-billed Wood Dove, Turtur abyssinicus
    Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur afer
    Tambourine Dove, Turtur tympanistria
    Blue-headed Wood Dove, Turtur brehmeri

Genus Oena (subfamily assignment unclear)

  • Namaqua Dove, Oena capensis
Emerald Dove,  Chalcophaps indica, native to tropical southern Asia and Australia.
Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, native to tropical southern Asia and Australia.

Genus Chalcophaps

  • Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica
    Stephan's Dove, Chalcophaps stephani

Genus Henicophaps

  • New Guinea Bronzewing, Henicophaps albifrons
    New Britain Bronzewing, Henicophaps foersteri

Genus Phaps

  • Common Bronzewing, Phaps chalcoptera
    Brush Bronzewing, Phaps elegans
    Flock Bronzewing, Phaps histrionica

Genus Ocyphaps

  • Crested Pigeon, Ocyphaps lophotes

Genus Geophaps

  • Spinifex Pigeon, Geophaps plumifera
    Squatter Pigeon, Geophaps scripta
    Partridge Pigeon, Geophaps smithii

Genus Petrophassa, rock pigeons

  • Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Petrophassa rufipennis
    White-quilled Rock Pigeon, Petrophassa albipennis
Bar-shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis, native to Australia.
Bar-shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis, native to Australia.

Genus Geopelia

  • Diamond Dove, Geopelia cuneata
    Zebra Dove, Geopelia striata
    Peaceful Dove, Geopelia placida
    Barred Dove, Geopelia maugei
    Bar-shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis

Subfamily Leptotilinae - Zenaidine and quail doves

Genus Zenaida

  • White-winged Dove, Zenaida asiatica
    Pacific Dove, Zenaida meloda
    Zenaida Dove, Zenaida aurita
    Galapagos Dove, Zenaida galapagoensis
    Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculata
    Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
    Socorro Dove, Zenaida graysoni (extinct in the wild)
Nestlings and mother Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Nestlings and mother Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

Genus Ectopistes

  • Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius (extinct)

Genus Leptotila

  • White-tipped Dove, Leptotila verreauxi
    White-faced Dove, Leptotila megalura
    Grey-fronted Dove, Leptotila rufaxilla
    Grey-headed Dove, Leptotila plumbeiceps
    Pallid Dove, Leptotila pallida
    Brown-backed Dove, Leptotila battyi
    Grenada Dove, Leptotila wellsi
    Caribbean Dove, Leptotila jamaicensis
    Grey-chested Dove, Leptotila cassini
    Ochre-bellied Dove, Leptotila ochraceiventris
    Tolima Dove, Leptotila conoveri

Genus Geotrygon, quail-doves

  • Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, Geotrygon lawrencii
    Veracruz Quail-Dove, Geotrygon carrikeri
    Costa Rica Quail-Dove, Geotrygon costaricensis
    Russet-crowned Quail-Dove, Geotrygon goldmani
    Sapphire Quail-Dove, Geotrygon saphirina
    Grey-headed Quail-Dove, Geotrygon caniceps
    Crested Quail-Dove, Geotrygon versicolor
    Rufous-breasted Quail-Dove, Geotrygon chiriquensis
    Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Geotrygon veraguensis
    White-faced Quail-Dove, Geotrygon albifacies
    Lined Quail-Dove, Geotrygon linearis
    White-throated Quail-Dove, Geotrygon frenata
    Key West Quail-Dove, Geotrygon chrysia
    Bridled Quail-Dove, Geotrygon mystacea
    Violaceous Quail-Dove, Geotrygon violacea
    Ruddy Quail-Dove, Geotrygon montana

Genus Starnoenas

  • Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Starnoenas cyanocephala

Subfamily Columbininae - American ground doves

Genus Columbina

  • Common Ground Dove, Columbina passerina
    Plain-breasted Ground Dove, Columbina minuta
    Ecuadorian Ground Dove, Columbina buckleyi
    Ruddy Ground Dove, Columbina talpacoti
    Picui Dove, Columbina picui
    Croaking Ground Dove, Columbina cruziana
    Blue-eyed Ground Dove, Columbina cyanopis

Genus Claravis

  • Blue Ground Dove, Claravis pretiosa
    Purple-winged Ground Dove, Claravis godefrida
    Maroon-chested Ground Dove, Claravis mondetoura

Genus Metropelia

  • Bare-faced Ground Dove, Metriopelia ceciliae
    Moreno's Ground Dove, Metriopelia morenoi
    Black-winged Ground Dove, Metriopelia melanoptera
    Golden-spotted Ground Dove, Metriopelia aymara

Genus Scardafella

  • Inca Dove, Scardafella inca
    Scaled Dove, Scardafella squammata

Genus Uropelia

  • Long-tailed Ground Dove, Uropelia campestris...

Subfamily N.N. - Indopacific ground doves

Luzon Bleeding-heart Pigeon Gallicolumba criniger, native to the Philippines.
Luzon Bleeding-heart Pigeon Gallicolumba criniger, native to the Philippines.

Genus Gallicolumba

  • Luzon Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba luzonica
    Mindanao Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba crinigera (criniger is a spelling error in the description)
    Mindoro Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba platenae
    Negros Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba keayi
    Sulu Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba menagei (possibly extinct)
    Cinnamon Ground Dove, Gallicolumba rufigula
    Sulawesi Ground Dove, Gallicolumba tristigmata
    White-bibbed Ground Dove, Gallicolumba jobiensis
    Caroline Ground Dove, Gallicolumba kubaryi
    Polynesian Ground Dove, Gallicolumba erythroptera
    White-throated Ground Dove, Gallicolumba xanthonura
    Friendly Ground Dove, Gallicolumba stairi
    Tanna Ground Dove, Gallicolumba ferruginea (extinct)
    Santa Cruz Ground Dove, Gallicolumba sanctaecrucis
    Thick-billed Ground Dove, Gallicolumba salamonis (extinct)
    Marquesas Ground Dove, Gallicolumba rubescens
    Bronze Ground Dove, Gallicolumba beccarii
    Palau Ground Dove, Gallicolumba canifrons
    Wetar Ground Dove, Gallicolumba hoedtii
    Norfolk Island Ground Dove, Gallicolumba norfolciensis (extinct)

Genus Trugon

  • Thick-billed Ground Pigeon, Trugon terrestris

Subfamily Otidiphabinae - Pheasant Pigeon

Genus Otidiphaps

  • Pheasant Pigeon, Otidiphaps nobilis

Subfamily Didunculinae - tooth-billed pigeon

Genus Didunculus

  • Tooth-billed Pigeon, Didunculus strigirostris

Subfamily Gourinae - crowned pigeons

Victoria Crowned Pigeon Goura victoria in a zoo aviary.
Victoria Crowned Pigeon Goura victoria in a zoo aviary.

Genus Goura

  • Western Crowned Pigeon, Goura cristata
    Southern Crowned Pigeon, Goura scheepmakeri
    Victoria Crowned Pigeon, Goura victoria

Subfamily N.N. ("Treroninae") - green and fruit doves and imperial pigeons

Genus Ducula (imperial pigeons)

Chestnut-naped Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea paulina. Other names for this bird are Celebes Imperial Pigeon, Celebes Green Imperial Pigeon and Green Imperial Pigeon.
Chestnut-naped Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea paulina. Other names for this bird are Celebes Imperial Pigeon, Celebes Green Imperial Pigeon and Green Imperial Pigeon.
  • Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula poliocephala
    White-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula forsteni
    Mindoro Imperial Pigeon, Ducula mindorensis
    Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula radiata
    Grey-necked Imperial Pigeon, Ducula carola
    Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea
    White-eyed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula perspicillata
    Blue-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula concinna
    Pacific Imperial Pigeon, Ducula pacifica
    Micronesian Imperial Pigeon, Ducula oceanica
    Polynesian Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aurorae
    Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon, Ducula galeata
    Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula rubricera
    Spice Imperial Pigeon, Ducula myristicivora
    Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula rufigaster
    Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula basilica
    Finsch's Imperial Pigeon, Ducula finschii
    Shinning Imperial Pigeon, Ducula chalconota
    Island Imperial Pigeon, Ducula pistrinaria
    Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula rosacea
    Christmas Imperial Pigeon, Ducula whartoni
    Grey Imperial Pigeon, Ducula pickeringii
    Peale's Imperial Pigeon, Ducula latrans
    Chestnut-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula brenchleyi
    Vanuatu Imperial Pigeon, Ducula bakeri
    New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, Ducula goliath
    Pinon's Imperial Pigeon, Ducula pinon
    Bismarck Imperial Pigeon, Ducula melanochroa
    Collared Imperial Pigeon, Ducula mullerii
    Zoe's Imperial Pigeon, Ducula zoeae
    Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Ducula badia
    Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Ducula lacernulata
    Timor Imperial Pigeon, Ducula cineracea
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor.
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor.
  • Pied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula bicolor
    Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Ducula spilorrhoa
    White Imperial Pigeon, Ducula luctuosa

Genus Lopholaimus

  • Topknot Pigeon, Lopholaimus antarcticus
Kerer?, New Zealand Pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae.
Kererū, New Zealand Pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae.

Genus Hemiphaga

  • New Zealand Pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae

Genus Cryptophaps

  • Sombre Pigeon, Cryptophaps poecilorrhoa

Genus Gymnophaps (mountain pigeons)

  • Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Gymnophaps albertisii
    Long-tailed Mountain Pigeon, Gymnophaps mada
    Pale Mountain Pigeon, Gymnophaps solomonensis

Genus Ptilinopus (fruit doves)

  • Black-backed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus cinctus
    Black-banded Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus alligator
    Red-naped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus dohertyi
    Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus porphyreus
    Flame-breasted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus marchei
    Cream-bellied Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus merrilli
    Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus occipitalis
    Red-eared Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus fischeri
    Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu
    Maroon-chinned Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus subgularis
    Black-chinned Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus leclancheri
    Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus bernsteinii
    Wompoo Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus magnificus
    Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus perlatus
    Ornate Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus ornatus
    Tanna Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus tannensis
    Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus aurantiifrons
    Wallace's Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus wallacii
    Superb Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus superbus
    Many-coloured Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus perousii
    Purple-capped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus porphyraceus
    Palau Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus pelewensis
    Rarotonga Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus rarotongensis
    Mariana Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus roseicapilla
    Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus regina
    Silver-capped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus richardsii
    Grey-green Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus purpuratus
    Makatea Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus chalcurus
    Atoll Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus coralensis
    Red-bellied Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus greyii
    Rapa Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus huttoni
    White-capped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus dupetithouarsii
Male Pink-headed Fruit Dove,  Ptilinopus porphyreus
Male Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus porphyreus
  • Red-moustached Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus mercierii (extinct)
    Henderson Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus insularis
    Coroneted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus coronulatus
    Beautiful Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus pulchellus
    Blue-capped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus monacha
    White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus rivoli
    Yellow-bibbed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus solomonensis
    Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus viridis
    White-headed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus eugeniae
    Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus iozonus
    Knob-billed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus insolitus
    Grey-headed Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus hyogaster
    Carunculated Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus granulifrons
    Black-naped Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus melanospila
    Dwarf Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus nanus
    Negros Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus arcanus (possibly extinct)
    Orange Dove, Ptilinopus victor
    Golden Dove, Ptilinopus luteovirens
    Whistling Dove, Ptilinopus layardi

Genus Natunaornis

  • Viti Levu Giant Pigeon, Natunaornis gigoura (prehistoric)

Genus Drepanoptila

  • Cloven-feathered Dove, Drepanoptila holosericea

Genus Alectroenas (blue pigeons)

  • Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas madagascariensis
    Comoro Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas sganzini
    Seychelles Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas pulcherrima
    Farquhar Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas sp. (extinct)
    Mauritius Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas nitidissima (extinct)
    Rodrigues Pigeon "Alectroenas" rodericana (extinct; probably distinct genus)

Placement unresolved

Nicobar Pigeon
Nicobar Pigeon

Genus Caloenas

  • Nicobar Pigeon, Caloenas nicobarica
    Liverpool Pigeon, "Caloenas" maculata (extinct; probably distinct genus)

Genus Treron (green pigeons)

  • Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis
    Little Green Pigeon, Treron olax
    Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Treron vernans
    Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Treron bicincta
    Pompadour Green Pigeon, Treron pompadora
    Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra
    Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Treron griseicauda
    Sumba Green Pigeon, Treron teysmannii
    Flores Green Pigeon, Treron floris
    Timor Green Pigeon, Treron psittacea
    Large Green Pigeon, Treron capellei
    Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Treron phoenicoptera
    Bruce's Green Pigeon, Treron waalia
    Madagascar Green Pigeon, Treron australis
    African Green Pigeon, Treron calva
    Pemba Green Pigeon, Treron pembaensis
    Sao Tome Green Pigeon, Treron sanctithomae
    Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Treron apicauda
    Sumatran Green Pigeon, Treron oxyura
    Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Treron seimundi
    Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Treron sphenura
    White-bellied Green Pigeon, Treron sieboldii
    Whistling Green Pigeon, Treron formosae

Genus Phapitreron (brown doves)

  • White-eared Brown Dove, Phapitreron leucotis
    Amethyst Brown Dove, Phapitreron amethystina
    Dark-eared Brown Dove, Phapitreron cinereiceps
Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca, native to Australia.
Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca, native to Australia.

Genus Leucosarcia

  • Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca

Genus Microgoura

  • Choiseul Pigeon, Microgoura meeki (extinct; subfamily assignment unclear)

Genus Dysmoropelia

  • St Helena Flightless Pigeon, Dysmoropelia dekarchiskos (extinct)

Genus indeterminate

  • Henderson Island Archaic Pigeon, Columbidae gen. et sp. indet. (prehistoric)


  • White doves, usually meaning domesticated Rock Pigeons, are a traditional Christian and Jewish symbol of love and peace. According to the biblical story, a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive branch, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land. A dove with an olive branch has since then come to symbolize peace. In Christian iconography, a dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove at the Baptism of Jesus.
  • Doves or other birds are sometimes released at Christian weddings. It should be noted that these birds, unless they are trained homing pigeons, cannot survive in the wild and will either starve to death or be easy prey for predators.
  • Doves are often associated with the concept of peace and pacifism. They often appear in political cartoons, on banners and signs at events promoting peace (such as the Olympic games, at various anti-war/anti-violence protests, etc.), and in pacifist literature. A person who is a pacifist is sometimes referred to as a dove (similarly, in American politics, a person who advocates the use of military resources as opposed to diplomacy can be referred to as a hawk).
  • Ironically, although sometimes ungratefully considered "pests" in big cities, common pigeons or Rock Pigeons have served humans in times of war as war pigeons, and have even been awarded war medals to honour their services to humanity. These include the homing pigeon, Cher Ami, who received the French Croix de guerre for services during wartime, and who is now enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution, and G.I. Joe, who received the Dickin Medal for his role in preventing the bombing of an Italian village of over 1,000 people.

Doves as food

Several species of pigeon or dove are used as food, and probably any could be; the powerful breast muscles characteristic of the family make excellent meat. In Europe the Wood Pigeon is commonly shot as a game bird, while Rock Pigeons were originally domesticated as a food species, and many breeds were developed for their meat-bearing qualities. The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon was at least partly due to shooting for use as food.

Doves are Kosher, and they and Turtle Doves are the only birds that may be used for a Korban. Other Kosher birds may be eaten, but not brought as a Korban.


A traditional pigeonhouse in Meybod, Yazd, Iran.
A traditional pigeonhouse in Meybod, Yazd, Iran.
  • Doves can be trained and often are utilized in tricks and animal acts by magicians and showmen.
  • In the United States, "dove" is sometimes used as a street name for cocaine. Ecstasy pills are also sometimes referred to as "doves", due to a well-known "brand" of pills featuring an embossed dove.
  • Dove is a brand of American ice cream; their "Dove Bar", featuring a vanilla ice cream filling with a thin chocolate coating, is particularly well known.
  • Dove is also a brand of soaps, deodorants skin care and hair care products, manufactured by Unilever.
  • A "pigeon" is an English slang word to refer to an uneducated, naive, or unsophisticated person: one that is easily deceived or cheated by underhanded means. To be referred to as a "pigeon" or a "dupe" suggests unwariness in the person deluded — especially used in the slang language of gambling. Etymology: from Middle French duppe.

External links


  • Baptista, L. F.; Trail, P. W. & Horblit, H. M. (1997): Order Columbiformes. In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors): Handbook of birds of the world, Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-22-9
  • Johnson, Kevin P. & Clayton, Dale H. (2000): Nuclear and Mitochondrial Genes Contain Similar Phylogenetic. Signal for Pigeons and Doves (Aves: Columbiformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 14(1): 141–151. PDF fulltext
  • Johnson, Kevin P.; de Kort, Selvino; Dinwoodey, Karen, Mateman, A. C.; ten Cate, Carel; Lessells, C. M. & Clayton, Dale H. (2001): A molecular phylogeny of the dove genera Streptopelia and Columba. Auk 118(4): 874-887. PDF fulltext
  • Shapiro, Beth; Sibthorpe, Dean; Rambaut, Andrew; Austin, Jeremy; Wragg, Graham M.; Bininda-Emonds, Olaf R. P.; Lee, Patricia L. M. & Cooper, Alan (2002): Flight of the Dodo. Science 295: 1683. DOI:10.1126/science.295.5560.1683 (HTML abstract) Supplementary information


  1. ^ Basically, the conventional treatment had 2 large subfamilies, one for the fruit-doves, imperial pigeons and fruit-pigeons, and another for nearly all of the remaining species. Additionally, there were 3 monotypic subfamilies, one each for the genera Goura, Otidiphaps and Didunculus. The old subfamily Columbinae consists of 5 distinct lineages, whereas the other 4 groups are more or less accurate representations of the evolutionary relationships.

See also

Related to doves

| Up
| Callaeidae
| Caprimulgidae
| Casuariidae
| Cathartidae
| Charadriidae
| Chionididae
| Cinclidae
| Cinclosomatidae
| Columbidae
| Corcorachidae
| Corvidae
| Cotinga
| Cuckoo-shrike

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