Rock Dove vs Pigeon: 7 Key Differences

Rock Dove vs Pigeon

Rock doves and pigeons are often used interchangeably to refer to the same bird, but there are some key differences between these two avian species. Understanding these distinctions can provide valuable insights into their unique characteristics. Here are seven important differences between rock doves and pigeons.

Comparing Rock Dove vs Pigeon

To better understand the disparities between rock doves and pigeons, let’s compare them side by side:

Rock DovePigeon
SizeMedium-sizedVaries in size, from small to large
EyesDarker color, often black or brownLighter color, ranging from yellow to red
TailShort and square-shapedLonger and more rounded
ColorationPrimarily gray with a hint of blueVaried colors, including white, black, and brown
AppearanceStocky and compact buildSlender and sleek physique
BehaviorMore domesticated and tameOften found in feral or wild populations
NestingTend to nest in sheltered areasBuild nests in tree branches or on ledges

The 7 Key Differences Between Rock Dove and Pigeon

Rock doves and pigeons, though similar in many ways, can be distinguished by seven key differences. These distinctions include size, eye color, tail shape, coloration, appearance, behavior, and nesting habits. Let’s delve into each of these aspects in more detail.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Size

Rock doves are generally medium-sized birds, while pigeons exhibit a wider range of sizes, varying from small to large. Rock doves typically measure around 12 to 14 inches in length and have a wingspan of approximately 26 to 30 inches. Pigeons, on the other hand, can range from as small as 9 inches in length to as large as 15 inches, with wingspans reaching up to 35 inches. The difference in size allows for easier visual identification between the two species.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Eyes

One of the noticeable differences between rock doves and pigeons lies in their eye color. Rock doves often have darker eyes, usually black or brown, which blend with their plumage. In contrast, pigeons exhibit a lighter eye coloration, ranging from yellow to reddish hues. These distinct eye colors can be observed when closely observing the birds and provide a helpful clue in differentiating between the two species.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Tail

The tail shape is another distinguishing factor between rock doves and pigeons. Rock doves have short, square-shaped tails that are neatly aligned with their bodies. Pigeons, on the other hand, possess longer tails with a more rounded appearance. This difference is noticeable when observing the birds in flight or while perched.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Coloration

Coloration is a prominent feature that sets rock doves and pigeons apart. Rock doves primarily exhibit a gray plumage with a slight tinge of blue, which gives them a characteristic appearance. On the other hand, pigeons come in a variety of colors, including white, black, brown, and combinations thereof. The diverse color patterns of pigeons make them more visually striking compared to the relatively monotonous plumage of rock doves.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Appearance

When it comes to overall appearance, rock doves have a stocky and compact build. They have a robust physique with a sturdy frame. In contrast, pigeons have a more slender and sleek appearance. Their bodies are streamlined, allowing for swift and agile flight. The disparity in their physical structures contributes to their distinct visual aesthetics.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Behavior

Behaviorally, rock doves and pigeons display some dissimilarities. Rock doves are more commonly found in domesticated settings and tend to be tamer and more accustomed to human presence. They are often seen in urban areas, parks, and city squares, where they have adapted to human habitation. Pigeons, on the other hand, are frequently encountered in feral or wild populations. They exhibit a greater tendency for self-sufficiency and are less reliant on human interaction.

Rock Dove vs Pigeon: Nesting

Rock doves and pigeons also differ in their nesting habits. Rock doves prefer to nest in sheltered areas such as cliffs, buildings, or caves. They seek out recesses that provide protection from the elements and predators. Pigeons, on the other hand, build their nests on tree branches or ledges, often utilizing materials such as twigs, leaves, and feathers. Their nesting behavior reflects their adaptability to various environments and their ability to construct nests in different settings.


 While rock doves and pigeons share many similarities, there are key differences that set them apart. These differences include size, eye color, tail shape, coloration, appearance, behavior, and nesting habits. Understanding these distinctions allows for a better appreciation of these avian species and enhances our knowledge of their unique characteristics.