7 Birds that Look Like Pigeons

Pigeons are an ubiquitous presence in public squares, parks, busy streets, and anywhere really where you’d also find lots of people.

Their lives are closely intertwined with that of humans, which also makes the pigeon an easily identifiable bird.

However, there are several other birds that look like pigeons and that are commonly mistaken for a pigeon. Below, I’ll discuss 7 birds that look like pigeons.

Mourning Dove

Smaller than a pigeon, the Mourning Dove is a graceful-looking bird with a slender body and a small head. The beady black eyes, thin, black bill, pinkish legs, and dusty peach colored plumage give this dove a delicate appearance.

The wings feature black spots and the long, fan shaped tail is black bordered with white tips. When in flight, the powerful wingbeats make a high-pitched whistle-like sound.

This dove earned its name after its soft calls that are made with a closed beak and by puffing up the throat.

Just like pigeons, mourning doves can be found in a variety of different habitats, except the deep woods. They’re most noticed perched up on telephone wires, but you’ll also see them in fields and other open areas.

It’s one of the most populous birds in North America.

As a ground forager, the mourning dove feeds mostly on seeds, but occasionally they’ll feed on weeds, grasses, and even wild berries.

They will visit bird feeders too, where they’ll feed on a variety of cultivated grains and peanuts. Platform feeders or ground feeders work best for them.

Mourning doves predominantly choose the dense foliage of trees as their nesting sites, however, mourning doves in the West will also nest on the ground.

The female dove produces around 2 eggs, which are then incubated for 14 days. The number of broods can be as high as 6.

Ring-Necked Dove

Another bird that looks like a pigeon is the ring-necked dove, a species of dove found in eastern and southern Africa.

The name of the bird comes from the semi-collar of black feathers at the nape of its neck, which gives the bird an air of elegance. The beady black eyes, small head, slender body and thin black beak also confer this bird an understated beauty and grace.

The plumage features shade of lavender on the nape, while the rest of the body features dull shades of gray and brown.

The bird inhabits a variety of habitats including savannahs, semi-desert scrub, woodlands, farmlands, various types of open plantations, etc.

Ring-necked doves are considered fairly sedentary. They’re usually seen alone or in pairs, but they do form large flocks around waterholes in dry regions.

They’re noisy when they gather not only because of their loud and harsh song, but also because of the loud clatter their wings make when they take flight.

As for their diet, they consume mainly seeds of various grasses, weeds, and cereal grains. Besides seeds, they may also feed on berries and broken fruits.

European Turtle Dove

One look at the European Turtle dove will make you understand why I’ve chosen to feature this bird in this article on birds that look like pigeons. But you’ll also understand why it’s called the Tukey dove.

Smaller than other doves, the European turtle dove has brown plumage and a patch on the side of the neck that’s black and white.

The wings are cinnamon mottled with black, while the head, flanks, neck and rump are a blue gray.

Unlike the other doves I described so far, the Turtle dove has red eye rims and yellow eyes with a black center. The legs are also red.

As a migratory bird, its range covers most of Europe and the Middle East including Turkey and northern Africa. It usually winters south of the Sahara.

This species of dove prefers open woodlands. It’s a timid bird unlike many other dove species.  It’s a ground forager, feeding on seeds of weeds and shoots.

Unfortunately, the population of the turtle dove in Europe has seen a rapid decline because of a variety of factors including agricultural practices, hunting during migration, and loss of habitat.

Red-Eyed Dove

Similar to the ring-necked dove, the Red-eyed dove is a common bird in sub-Saharan Africa in most habitats, other than desert zones.

Due to its large, stocky build, it resembles a pigeon. Its plumage is colored in a dark vinous pink on the head and underpants, while the face is pale gray.

The neck features a black patch edged with white. In flight, its flight feathers are blackish. The eye rings are red and so are the bird’s legs.

As for its diet, the Red-eyed dove feeds on seeds of various grasses and weeds. It also forages on the ground for grains and other vegetation.

They’re not typically gregarious, preferring to feed alone or in pairs. They can also be spotted in forests, near rivers.

Red-eyed doves build their nests in trees using various sticks for this purpose. They lay only two white eggs, which the female incubates.

Caribbean Dove

An elusive bird that’s more often heard than seen, the Caribbean Dove is another example of a bird that’s similar to a pigeon.

The plumage is dark brown-olive above and creamy white below. The forehead, face and throat of the Caribbean dove is creamy white. The head features a gray hind crown, while the nape is of an iridescent purple. The sides of the neck are rosy red with an iridescent gloss in green or purple.

The eyes are either white or white with a red ring. The eye rings are dull purple. Legs and feet are red.

The Caribbean dove can be found in the Cayman Islands, Belize, Honduras, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, and the Bahamas.

This dove too is a ground forager, feeding on seeds. It builds its nest closer to the ground in shrubs or smaller trees.

It prefers semi-arid lowlands with shrubs or trees as cover. In Jamaica, the Caribbean dove can be found even at elevations of 6,600 feet (2,000 m).

Red Collared Dove

It’s not the collard that is red on this dove, but the plumage. The red collared dove features rusty red plumage on its back and a black collar with white margins on the back of its neck.

This bird is a breeding bird in the tropics of Asia and bears a close resemblance to the Eurasian collared dove.

Apart from the rusty red plumage and black collar, another particularity of this dove is its bluish-gray head. The eyes are beady black, while the beak is thin and sharp with a downward curvature at the end. The legs are also black.

The female of the species is similar to the male, only that it’s rather pinkish than rusty red.

The red collared dove prefers plains over mountains, and it avoids rocky foothills. It also avoids extensive desert regions and prefers roadside tree plantations.

This dove covers an extensive range and migrates even in summer to cultivated valleys of Afghania and breeds there.

They migrate in flocks but once they reach their destination, they split up to form pairs for breeding. They usually lay two eggs in a nest placed high in a bush or a tree.

Vinaceous Dove

Last in my list of birds that look like pigeons is the Vinaceous dove that’s similar in appearance to the other ring-necked doves I described in this article.

It looks like a small, stocky pigeon with a black collar and plumage that’s pale brown and shades of gray. The legs are pink. The eyes and beak are black.

When taking flight, blacking underwings become visible. Their flight is quick, wingbeats are regular with the occasional sharp flick of the wings that’s hard to miss.

This dove inhabits regions of Sahel and Sudan. It enjoys scrub and savannahs and builds its stick nest in acacia trees. They usually lay only two eggs.

Unlike other dove species, the Vinaceous dove is very gregarious, preferring to feed in large flocks in the company of other doves.

Like many other dove species or pigeons, this too is a ground forager, choosing to feed on seeds, grains, and shoots of various vegetation.

The bird is classified as Least Concern by the Red List of Threatened Species because of a stable population trend. While the population in the wild has not been quantified, the sheer range they occupy – 9,740,000 km2 – gives no cause for concern.


If not for the geographical distribution of these doves, it would be easy to mistake them for one another, but also for various pigeon species.

As you’ve perhaps noticed, for all their likeness, there are some subtle and some not-so-subtle differences between pigeons and doves, and doves of various species.

The most immediate difference is perhaps the size difference. Overall pigeons tend to be larger and stockier, while doves are smaller, slenderer, and even more graceful.

Whether it’s the plumage color, color of the eyes, the legs, or their breeding habits differences are mostly apparent and easy to identify.

Some of these birds are very gregarious, others are much timider, preferring to stay away from human settlements.

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