Columbidae – Doves & Pigeons

Western Crowned Pigeon Goura cristata ©Adam Riley Website

The Columbidae or pigeons and doves family includes about 330 species. They are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills (and in some species, these bills feature fleshy ceres). They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indo-malaya and Australasia eco-zones. In general, the terms ‘dove’ and ‘pigeon’ are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, ‘dove’ tends 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 a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as ‘pigeon’ is the Rock Dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is common in many cities as the feral pigeon. Pigeons and doves are likely the most common birds in the world.

They build relatively flimsy nests – often using sticks and other debris – which may be placed in trees, on ledges, or on 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 seven to 28 days. 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’. The adjective ‘columbine refers to pigeons and doves.

The plumage of the family is variable. Granivorous species tend to have dull plumage, with a few exceptions, whereas the frugivorous species have brightly coloured plumage. The Ptilinopus fruit doves are some of the brightest-coloured pigeons, with the three endemic species of Fiji and the Indian Ocean Alectroenas being the brightest. Pigeons and doves may be sexually monochromatic or dichromatic. In addition to bright colours, pigeons may sport crests or other ornamentation.

Like some other birds, the Columbidae have no gall bladders. Some medieval naturalists concluded they have no bile (gall), which in the medieval theory of the four humours explained the allegedly sweet disposition of doves. In fact, however, they do have gall (as Aristotle already realised), which is secreted directly into the gut.

According to the IOC there are no less than 330 extant species in the family Columbidae; they are:

Rock Dove Columba livia
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris
Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
White-collared Pigeon Columba albitorques
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni
Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz
Bolle’s Pigeon Columba bollii
Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae
Afep Pigeon Columba unicincta
African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix
Cameroon Olive Pigeon Columba sjostedti
Sao Tome Olive Pigeon Columba thomensis
Comoros Olive Pigeon Columba pollenii
Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii
White-naped Pigeon Columba albinucha
Ashy Wood Pigeon Columba pulchricollis
Nilgiri Wood Pigeon Columba elphinstonii
Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon Columba torringtoniae
Pale-capped Pigeon Columba punicea
Silvery Pigeon Columba argentina
Andaman Wood Pigeon Columba palumboides
Japanese Wood Pigeon Columba janthina
Metallic Pigeon Columba vitiensis
White-headed Pigeon Columba leucomela
Yellow-legged Pigeon Columba pallidiceps
Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba delegorguei
Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques
Island Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba malherbii
Lemon Dove Columba larvata

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
Maranon Pigeon Patagioenas oenops
Plain Pigeon Patagioenas inornata
Plumbeous Pigeon Patagioenas plumbea
Ruddy Pigeon Patagioenas subvinacea
Short-billed Pigeon Patagioenas nigrirostris
Dusky Pigeon Patagioenas goodsoni

Malagasy Turtle Dove Nesoenas picturatus
Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri

European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Dusky Turtle Dove Streptopelia lugens
Adamawa Turtle Dove Streptopelia hypopyrrha
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Island Collared Dove Streptopelia bitorquata
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
African Collared Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea
White-winged Collared Dove Streptopelia reichenowi
Mourning Collared Dove Streptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola
Vinaceous Dove Streptopelia vinacea
Red Turtle Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica

Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis

Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia amboinensis
Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia doreya
Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia emiliana
Enggano Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia cinnamomea
Barusan Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia modiglianii
Timor Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia magna
Tanimbar Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia timorlaoensis
Flores Sea Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia macassariensis
Philippine Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia tenuirostris
Brown Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia phasianella
Andaman Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia rufipennis
Bar-tailed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris
MacKinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia mackinlayi
Little Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia ruficeps

Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardti
Pied Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena browni
Crested Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena crassirostris

White-faced Cuckoo-Dove Turacoena manadensis
Sula Cuckoo-Dove Turacoena sulaensis
Black Cuckoo-Dove Turacoena modesta

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

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis

Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris
Stephan’s Emerald Dove Chalcophaps stephani

New Guinea Bronzewing Henicophaps albifrons
New Britain Bronzewing Henicophaps foersteri

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

Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes

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

Thick-billed Ground Pigeon Trugon terrestris

Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia melanoleuca

Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon Petrophassa rufipennis
White-quilled Rock Pigeon Petrophassa albipennis

Diamond Dove Geopelia cuneata
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida
Barred Dove Geopelia maugeus
Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis

Inca Dove Columbina inca
Scaled Dove Columbina squammata
Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina
Plain-breasted Ground Dove Columbina minuta
Ecuadorian Ground Dove Columbina buckleyi
Ruddy Ground Dove Columbina talpacoti
Picui Ground Dove Columbina picui
Croaking Ground Dove Columbina cruziana
Blue-eyed Ground Dove Columbina cyanopis

Blue Ground Dove Claravis pretiosa
Purple-winged Ground Dove Claravis geoffroyi
Maroon-chested Ground Dove Claravis mondetoura

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

Long-tailed Ground Dove Uropelia campestris

Blue-headed Quail-Dove Starnoenas cyanocephala

Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove Geotrygon purpurata
Sapphire Quail-Dove Geotrygon saphirina
Crested Quail-Dove Geotrygon versicolor
Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
Violaceous Quail-Dove Geotrygon violacea
Grey-fronted Quail-Dove Geotrygon caniceps
White-fronted Quail-Dove Geotrygon leucometopia
Key West Quail-Dove Geotrygon chrysia
Bridled Quail-Dove Geotrygon mystacea

Olive-backed Quail-Dove Leptotrygon veraguensis

White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
Yungas Dove Leptotila megalura
Grey-fronted Dove Leptotila rufaxilla
Grey-headed Dove Leptotila plumbeiceps
Pallid Dove Leptotila pallida
Azuero Dove Leptotila battyi
Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi
Caribbean Dove Leptotila jamaicensis
Grey-chested Dove Leptotila cassinii
Ochre-bellied Dove Leptotila ochraceiventris
Tolima Dove Leptotila conoveri

Tuxtla Quail-Dove Zentrygon carrikeri
Buff-fronted Quail-Dove Zentrygon costaricensis
Purplish-backed Quail-Dove Zentrygon lawrencii
White-faced Quail-Dove Zentrygon albifacies
White-throated Quail-Dove Zentrygon frenata
Lined Quail-Dove Zentrygon linearis
Chiriqui Quail-Dove Zentrygon chiriquensis
Russet-crowned Quail-Dove Zentrygon goldmani

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Socorro Dove Zenaida graysoni
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita
Galapagos Dove Zenaida galapagoensis
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
West Peruvian Dove Zenaida meloda

Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica

Sulawesi Ground Dove Gallicolumba tristigmata
Cinnamon Ground Dove Gallicolumba rufigula
Luzon Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba luzonica
Mindanao Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba crinigera
Mindoro Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba platenae
Negros Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba keayi
Sulu Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba menagei

Wetar Ground Dove Alopecoenas hoedtii
White-breasted Ground Dove Alopecoenas jobiensis
White-fronted Ground Dove Alopecoenas kubaryi
Polynesian Ground Dove Alopecoenas erythropterus
White-throated Ground Dove Alopecoenas xanthonurus
Tongan Ground Dove Alopecoenas stairi
Santa Cruz Ground Dove Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis
Marquesan Ground Dove Alopecoenas rubescens
Bronze Ground Dove Alopecoenas beccarii
Palau Ground Dove Alopecoenas canifrons

Pheasant Pigeon Otidiphaps nobilis

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

Tooth-billed Pigeon Didunculus strigirostris

White-eared Brown Dove Phapitreron leucotis
Amethyst Brown Dove Phapitreron amethystinus
Tawitawi Brown Dove Phapitreron cinereiceps
Mindanao Brown Dove Phapitreron brunneiceps

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon Treron fulvicollis
Little Green Pigeon Treron olax
Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon Treron bicinctus
Sri Lanka Green Pigeon Treron pompadora
Grey-fronted Green Pigeon Treron affinis
Ashy-headed Green Pigeon Treron phayrei
Andaman Green Pigeon Treron chloropterus
Philippine Green Pigeon Treron axillaris
Buru Green Pigeon Treron aromaticus
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 psittaceus
Large Green Pigeon Treron capellei
Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicopterus
Bruce’s Green Pigeon Treron waalia
Madagascan Green Pigeon Treron australis
Comoros Green Pigeon Treron griveaudi
African Green Pigeon Treron calvus
Pemba Green Pigeon Treron pembaensis
Sao Tome Green Pigeon Treron sanctithomae
Pin-tailed Green Pigeon Treron apicauda
Sumatran Green Pigeon Treron oxyurus
Yellow-vented Green Pigeon Treron seimundi
Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon Treron sphenurus
White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii
Whistling Green Pigeon Treron formosae

Banded 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-breasted Fruit Dove Ptilinopus merrilli
Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove Ptilinopus occipitalis
Red-eared Fruit Dove Ptilinopus fischeri
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu
Banggai Fruit Dove Ptilinopus subgularis
Oberholser’s Fruit Dove Ptilinopus epius
Sula Fruit Dove Ptilinopus mangoliensis
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-colored Fruit Dove Ptilinopus perousii
Crimson-crowned Fruit Dove Ptilinopus porphyraceus
Purple-capped Fruit Dove Ptilinopus ponapensis
Kosrae Fruit Dove Ptilinopus hernsheimi
Palau Fruit Dove Ptilinopus pelewensis
Lilac-crowned 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 greyi
Rapa Fruit Dove Ptilinopus huttoni
White-capped Fruit Dove Ptilinopus dupetithouarsii
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 hyogastrus
Carunculated Fruit Dove Ptilinopus granulifrons
Black-naped Fruit Dove Ptilinopus melanospilus
Dwarf Fruit Dove Ptilinopus nainus
Negros Fruit Dove Ptilinopus arcanus
Orange Fruit Dove Ptilinopus victor
Golden Fruit Dove Ptilinopus luteovirens
Whistling Fruit Dove Ptilinopus layardi

Cloven-feathered Dove Drepanoptila holosericea

Madagascan Blue Pigeon Alectroenas madagascariensis
Comoros Blue Pigeon Alectroenas sganzini
Seychelles Blue Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrimus

Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon Ducula poliocephala
White-bellied Imperial Pigeon Ducula forsteni
Mindoro Imperial Pigeon Ducula mindorensis
Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon Ducula radiata
Spotted Imperial Pigeon Ducula carola
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea
Nicobar Imperial Pigeon Ducula nicobarica
Spectacled Imperial Pigeon Ducula perspicillata
Seram Imperial Pigeon Ducula neglecta
Elegant Imperial Pigeon Ducula concinna
Pacific Imperial Pigeon Ducula pacifica
Micronesian Imperial Pigeon Ducula oceanica
Polynesian Imperial Pigeon Ducula aurorae
Marquesan 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
Rufescent 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
Barking Imperial Pigeon Ducula latrans
Chestnut-bellied Imperial Pigeon Ducula brenchleyi
Vanuatu Imperial Pigeon Ducula bakeri
Goliath Imperial Pigeon Ducula goliath
Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon Ducula pinon
Black 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
Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon Ducula luctuosa
Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
Yellowish Imperial Pigeon Ducula subflavescens

Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus

New Zealand Pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
Chatham Pigeon Hemiphaga chathamensis

Sombre Pigeon Cryptophaps poecilorrhoa

Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii
Buru Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps mada
Seram Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps stalkeri
Pale Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps solomonensis

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 330

Useful Reading
  • Feral Pigeons

    by RF Johnston and M Janiga - 320 pages, b/w photos, illus, tabs. Oxford University Press 1995 ISBN: 0195084098 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Pigeons and Doves

    A Guide to the pigeons and Doves of the World by David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes and John Cox - Pica Press 2001 ISBN: 1873403607 Buy this book from NHBS.com

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