Aussie Bird Count

What Bird is That? Pigeons vs Doves

Friday, 13 October 2023

  • Estimated reading time 5min

How to tell the difference between commonly confused birds: Pigeons vs Doves

In the leadup to this year’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count, our very own National Public Affairs Manager Sean Dooley is talking us through how to tell the difference between commonly confused backyard birds.

For our last instalment of this week’s ‘What bird is that?’ series, it’s the difference between doves and pigeons – some of Australia’s most commonly confused and mis-counted backyard birds. Our National Public Affairs Manager Sean Dooley tells us if there is even a difference at all.

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See below for the full video transcript


Sean Dooley (00:00):

A lot of people ask us, “What’s the difference between a Pigeon and a Dove?” And to be honest, there isn’t really any difference.

Sean Dooley (00:10)
They both belong in the same family. It’s just that pigeon is a French word that applies to those types of birds and doves comes from the German.

It’s almost a bit arbitrary as to which got named which, which creates quite a bit of confusion because when people are entering surveys, they think they’re seeing a feral pigeon or a domestic pigeon, and they don’t realise that it’s actually technically known as a Rock Dove.

The Rock Dove is the ancestral bird of all the birds that we know as Domestic Pigeons, or Feral Pigeons, or Homing Pigeons, or Racing Pigeons, or rats with wings.

Although we really prefer that you don’t call them rats with wings because they’re just making a living, surviving in a very hostile urban environment.

And if you can insist on calling them rats with wings, well, Mike Tyson is a pigeon-fancier, and we’ll send him around to sort you out.