Difference Wiki

Pigeon vs. Dove: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on June 30, 2024
Pigeons and doves are both birds from the Columbidae family, with "pigeon" typically referring to larger species and "dove" to smaller ones, though the terms are often used interchangeably.

Key Differences

Pigeon and dove both refer to birds that belong to the Columbidae family. They are closely related, and the distinction between the two is not always strict, often relying on cultural and regional preferences. In many contexts, the terms are used interchangeably. In general, pigeons are considered to be larger, while doves are thought of as the smaller species within the family. However, this distinction is not strict, and what one person or region calls a dove, another might refer to as a pigeon.
Both pigeons and doves are found worldwide, except for the extreme polar regions. They vary in size and color, but they share some common traits such as stout bodies and short necks. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, fruits, and sometimes small insects.
Pigeons are often seen in urban environments and are associated with city landscapes. They have been domesticated for various purposes, from message delivery to racing. Doves, on the other hand, are often associated with symbols of peace and love, especially the white dove.
Culturally, doves are frequently used as symbols of peace, hope, and purity. The release of white doves is a common sight at weddings and other ceremonies. Pigeons, though less symbolic, have played significant roles in history as carriers of messages during wars and other crucial events.

Comparison Chart


Generally larger
Generally smaller


Commonly found in urban environments
Found in various habitats; often symbolic

Cultural Associations

Carrier, urban life
Peace, love, purity


Used for racing, messages
Less commonly domesticated

General Appearance

Stout bodies, varied colors
Often smaller with smoother plumage

Pigeon and Dove Definitions


Pigeon is a bird from the Columbidae family, often larger and found in urban environments.
The city square was bustling with pigeons pecking at breadcrumbs.


Dove is a bird from the Columbidae family, typically smaller and symbolic of peace and love.
The release of a white dove at the ceremony symbolized hope and new beginnings.


Pigeon can describe birds that are skilled in homing and have historically been used for message delivery.
Before modern communication, pigeons were used to send messages across long distances.


Dove refers to a gentle bird often associated with purity and innocence.
The dove, with its serene presence, always brought a sense of calm to the garden.


Pigeon refers to a bird that has been domesticated for various human activities.
The pigeon racer took pride in his birds' impeccable speed and direction sense.


Dove is often used to denote a bird with smoother plumage and softer features.
The soft cooing of the dove could be heard every morning at dawn.


Pigeon symbolizes an often-underestimated bird accustomed to human presence.
Many consider the pigeon a mere city bird, but its adaptability is commendable.


Dove describes a species within the Columbidae family with a vast range of colors and habitats.
From forested areas to deserts, doves have an impressive range of habitats.


Pigeon can indicate a variety of species with stout bodies and short necks.
Observing the diversity in pigeon species at the aviary was truly fascinating.


Dove can signify a universal symbol of peace in various cultures.
The peace treaty was commemorated with the release of dozens of white doves.


Any of various birds of the widely distributed family Columbidae, characteristically having plump bodies, small heads, and short legs, especially the rock pigeon or any of its domesticated varieties.


Any of various widely distributed birds of the family Columbidae, which includes the pigeons, having a small head and a characteristic cooing call.


(Slang) One who is easily swindled; a dupe.


A gentle, innocent person.


Are pigeons and doves the same bird?

They both belong to the Columbidae family, but "pigeon" often refers to larger species, and "dove" to smaller ones.

Are all doves white?

No, doves come in a variety of colors and species, though white doves are often the most recognized.

Why are doves considered symbols of peace?

Doves, especially white ones, have long-standing associations with peace, hope, and purity in various cultures.

Do both pigeons and doves coo?

Yes, both pigeons and doves produce a cooing sound, which is a form of their vocalization.

Can pigeons really deliver messages?

Yes, historically, pigeons have been trained to carry messages over considerable distances.

Why are pigeons often seen as pests?

In urban environments, pigeons can sometimes be viewed as pests due to their droppings and potential to carry diseases.

Why are pigeons common in cities?

Pigeons have adapted well to urban environments, finding food and nesting spots easily in such areas.

Can doves be kept as pets?

Yes, some species of doves, like the diamond dove, are popular pets due to their gentle nature.

Why do doves often appear in wedding ceremonies?

The release of doves in weddings symbolizes love, peace, and new beginnings.

Do pigeons have any natural predators?

Yes, pigeons have natural predators like hawks, eagles, and falcons, among others.

Is there a specific species named "dove" or "pigeon"?

There are various species within the Columbidae family; some might be named "dove" or "pigeon" based on regional preferences.

Are pigeons and doves edible?

Both pigeons and doves are edible, and they've been consumed in various cuisines throughout history.

Do pigeons have a strong sense of direction?

Yes, pigeons have an excellent sense of direction and can find their way home from long distances.

Do pigeons and doves have a similar diet?

Both pigeons and doves primarily feed on seeds and fruits, though they can occasionally consume small insects.

How long do pigeons and doves live?

Their lifespan varies by species, but many pigeons and doves live between 3-15 years in the wild, potentially longer in captivity.

How do pigeons navigate during their flights?

Pigeons use a combination of visual landmarks, the Earth's magnetic field, and possibly other senses for navigation.

Are there any conservation concerns for doves?

Some dove species face threats due to habitat loss and hunting, though many are still widespread.

Are there any religious connotations with doves?

Yes, in Christianity, for instance, the dove often symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

How can one differentiate between a pigeon and a dove in the wild?

While there's overlap, pigeons are generally larger with varied colors, while doves are typically smaller with smoother plumage.

Are pigeons and doves found worldwide?

Yes, they're found on every continent except Antarctica.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons