How Do Pigeons & Doves Differ?

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Pigeons and Doves Belong to the Same Family

  • Scientifically there is no difference between pigeons and doves. Both belong to the Dove family, the Columbidae, of which there are 290 species. Doves and pigeons have smooth feathers that sit flat on their oval bodies. A lot of the feathers are loosely attached to the bird's skin. That works in their favor when they are snatched by a falcon or hawk. Sometimes the bird can get away when the feathers pull out.

Pigeons Are Bigger Than Doves

  • Fully grown pigeons are between 13.5 and 14.5 inches long. The biggest bird that has the word "dove" in its name, the Zenaida Dove, grows to be 10 inches long. The smallest is the Common Ground Dove, which only gets to be 6 inches long. The size is the only difference between pigeons and doves.

Pigeons and Doves Have Some Great Features

  • Pigeons and doves are the only birds that produce "milk" for their young. The baby birds put their beaks inside the parents' and receive pigeon milk that comes up from the adult birds' crop. Pigeons and doves are the only birds that do not need to pick up their heads before swallowing a drink of water. The birds make cooing sounds, eat seeds, lay two white eggs at a time and take turns sitting on the eggs. Males are on the nest during the daytime and females stay home at night.

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