Temporal range: Early Miocene–recent [1]
Pigeon on high tension cable.png
Feral pigeon perched on a supply cable
Scientific classification edit
Latham, 1790
Leach, 1820
Pigeon range.png
Geographic range of the family Columbidae

Pigeons and doves constitute the animal family Columbidae and the order Columbiformes, which includes about 42 genera and 310 species. They are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills that in some species feature fleshy ceres. They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. Pigeons and doves are likely the most common birds in the world; the family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.

The distinction between "doves" and "pigeons" is not consistent. In everyday speech, "dove" frequently indicates a pigeon that is white or nearly white; some people use the terms "dove" and "pigeon" interchangeably. In contrast, in scientific and ornithological practice, "dove" tends to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied. Historically, the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as "pigeon" is the species known by scientists as the rock dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is common in many cities as the feral pigeon.

Pigeon is a French word that derives from the Latin pipio, for a "peeping" chick,[2] while dove is a Germanic word that refers to the bird's diving flight.[3] The English dialectal word "culver" appears to derive from Latin columba.[2]

Doves and pigeons build relatively flimsy nests, often using sticks and other debris, which may be placed on trees, ledges, or the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs at a time, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after 7–28 days.[4] Unlike most birds, both sexes of doves and pigeons produce "crop milk" to feed to their young, secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Young doves and pigeons are called "squabs".

Taxonomy and systematics

The family Columbidae was introduced by the English zoologist William Elford Leach in a guide to the contents of the British Museum published in 1820.[5][6] Columbidae is the only living family in the order Columbiformes. The sandgrouses (Pteroclididae) were formerly placed here, but were moved to a separate order Pteroclidiformes based on anatomical differences (e.g., they are unable to drink by "sucking" or "pumping");[7] they are now considered to be more closely related to shorebirds.[8] Recent phylogenomic studies support the grouping of pigeons and sandgrouse together, along with mesites, forming the sister taxon to Mirandornithes.[9][10][11][12]

The Columbidae are usually divided into five subfamilies, probably inaccurately.[13] For example, the American ground and quail doves (Geotrygon), which are usually placed in the Columbinae, seem to be two distinct subfamilies.[14] The order presented here follows Baptista et al. (1997),[15] with some updates.[16][17][18]

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.[citation needed] This ambiguity, probably caused by long branch attraction, seems to confirm 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.[citation needed]

The family Columbidae previously also contained the family Raphidae, consisting of the extinct Rodrigues solitaire and the dodo.[18][19][20] These species are in all likelihood part of the Indo-Australian radiation that produced the three small subfamilies mentioned above,[21] with the fruit doves and pigeons (including the Nicobar pigeon). Therefore, they are here included as a subfamily Raphinae, pending better material evidence of their exact relationships.[22]

Exacerbating these issues, columbids are not well represented in the fossil record.[23] No truly primitive forms have been found to date.[citation needed] The genus Gerandia has been described from Early Miocene deposits in France, but while it was long believed to be a pigeon,[24] it is now considered a sandgrouse.[25] Fragmentary remains of a probably "ptilinopine" Early Miocene pigeon were found in the Bannockburn Formation of New Zealand and described as Rupephaps;[25] "Columbina" prattae from roughly contemporary deposits of Florida is nowadays tentatively separated in Arenicolumba, but its distinction from Columbina/Scardafella and related genera needs to be more firmly established (e.g. by cladistic analysis).[26] Apart from that, all other fossils belong to extant genera.[27]

Baby pigeon
Rock dove in flight
Rock pigeon courtship


Taxonomy based on the work by John H. Boyd, III,[28] a professor of economics.[29]


Starnoenas (Blue-headed quail-doves)

Geotrygon (Quail-doves)


Leptotrygon (olive-backed quail-dove)




Ectopistes (Passenger pigeon)

Patagioenas (American pigeons)





Columba (Old World pigeons)





Uropelia (long-tailed ground doves)


Columbina [Scardafella]





Ocyphaps (Crested pigeon)

Petrophassa (rock pigeons)

Leucosarcia (Wonga pigeon)





Trugon (thick-billed ground pigeon)

Microgoura (Choiseul crested pigeon)

Otidiphaps (pheasant pigeon)


Didunculus (tooth-billed pigeon)

Caloenas (Nicobar pigeon)

Raphus (Dodo)

Pezophaps (Rodrigues solitaire)


Treron (Green pigeons)


Phapitreron (Brown dove)

Chalcophaps (Emerald doves)

Oena (Namaqua dove)

Turtur (African wood doves)


Ducula (Imperial pigeons)

[Ptilinopus; Drepanoptila; Alectroenas] (Fruit doves)

Hemiphaga (New Zealand pigeons)

Lopholaimus (Topknot pigeon)

Cryptophaps (Sombre pigeon)

Gymnophaps (Mountain pigeons)

Other Languages
Acèh: Mirahpati
Afrikaans: Duif
Alemannisch: Tauben
አማርኛ: ርግብ
Ænglisc: Culfre
العربية: حماميات
aragonés: Columbidae
ܐܪܡܝܐ: ܝܘܢܐ
arpetan: Pinjon
অসমীয়া: পাৰ চৰাই
asturianu: Columbidae
Atikamekw: Omemew
Avañe'ẽ: Pykasu
Aymar aru: Kitula
azərbaycanca: Göyərçinlər
تۆرکجه: گؤیرچینلر
Bân-lâm-gú: Hún-chiáu
башҡортса: Күгәрсендәр
беларуская: Галубіныя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Галубовыя
Bikol Central: Salampati
български: Гълъбови
bosanski: Golubovi
brezhoneg: Columbidae
буряад: Тагтаа
català: Colúmbids
Cebuano: Salapati
čeština: Holubovití
Cymraeg: Colomen
dansk: Duer
Deutsch: Tauben
Diné bizaad: Hasbídí
eesti: Tuvilased
Ελληνικά: Περιστερίδες
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Clómb
español: Columbidae
Esperanto: Kolombedoj
euskara: Uso
فارسی: کبوتر
Fiji Hindi: Kabutar
føroyskt: Dúgva
français: Columbidae
Gaeilge: Colm
Gàidhlig: Calman
galego: Pomba
گیلکی: کفتر
ગુજરાતી: કપોત કુળ
한국어: 비둘기
հայերեն: Աղավնազգիներ
हिन्दी: कबूतर
hrvatski: Golubovi
Ido: Kolombo
Ilokano: Columbidae
Bahasa Indonesia: Columbidae
interlingua: Columbidae
Ирон: Æхсинæг
íslenska: Dúfur
italiano: Columbidae
עברית: יוניים
Basa Jawa: Dara
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಕಲಂಬಿಡೈ
कॉशुर / کٲشُر: کوتُر
қазақша: Кептерлілер
kernowek: Kolom
Kiswahili: Njiwa
Kongo: Dibembe
Kreyòl ayisyen: Pijon
kurdî: Kevok
Кыргызча: Көгүчкөн
кырык мары: Кӓдӹвлӓ
Ladino: Palomba
Latina: Columbidae
latviešu: Baložu dzimta
lietuvių: Karveliniai
Limburgs: Doeve
Lingua Franca Nova: Columbiformo
മലയാളം: പ്രാവ്
मराठी: कपोताद्य
مازِرونی: کوتر
Bahasa Melayu: Merpati
монгол: Тагтаа
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ခို
Nederlands: Duiven (vogels)
Nedersaksies: Duve
नेपाली: ढुकुर
नेपाल भाषा: बखुं
日本語: ハト科
Nordfriisk: Düüwen
norsk: Duer
norsk nynorsk: Duefamilien
occitan: Colomb
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ପାରା
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kaptarlar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕਬੂਤਰ
پنجابی: کبوتر
پښتو: کوتره
Picard: Columbidae
português: Columbidae
română: Columbidae
Runa Simi: Urpi
русиньскый: Голубовы
русский: Голубиные
संस्कृतम्: कपोतः
sardu: Columbidae
Scots: Columbidae
Sesotho sa Leboa: Leeba
shqip: Pëllumbi
sicilianu: Palumma
Simple English: Dove
سنڌي: ڪبوتر
slovenčina: Holubovité
slovenščina: Golobi
Soomaaliga: Xamaam(Shinbir)
کوردی: کۆتر
српски / srpski: Голубови
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Golub
suomi: Kyyhkyt
svenska: Duvor
Tagalog: Kalapati
தமிழ்: புறா
తెలుగు: కపోతము
Türkçe: Güvercingiller
українська: Голубові
اردو: کبوتر
Tiếng Việt: Họ Bồ câu
Winaray: Sarapati
Wolof: Pitax
吴语: 鸠鸽科
ייִדיש: טויבן
粵語: 鳩鴿科
žemaitėška: Balondis (paukštis)
中文: 鸠鸽科