Pigeons and Doves of the United States: A Photo List of All Species
There are 12 species of pigeons and doves in the United States and Canada. Some are widespread and others more localized “specialties,” occupying small ranges in the southern parts of the United States.
The main difference between pigeons and doves is not taxonomic (both are members of the Columbidae family) — but rather a linguistic one. While the word pigeon has its roots in French, dove is of Nordic origin. Although the terms “pigeon” and “dove” have no technical definition, today we tend to categorize the smaller species as doves and the larger ones as pigeons.
Contrary to public opinion, pigeons and doves are surprisingly intelligent. Studies have shown them capable of recognizing themselves in mirrors, a feat pulled off by few other non-primate species. When trained, these birds can also be taught all 26 letters of the alphabet, and even how to differentiate between different people in photographs.
Pigeons and doves face many hazards, including lead poisoning from ingesting shotgun pellets, window collisions, and habitat loss. Because Rock Pigeons are sometimes viewed as pests, they are at times directly targeted.
To help doves, pigeons, and many others, ABC employs a multipronged conservation approach that includes protecting birds from agricultural pesticides, working to decrease glass collisions, improving habitat management, and fighting against the use of lead ammunition.
For the purposes of this U.S.-based list, we've used Partners in Flight (PIF) data exclusive to the United States and Canada, which do not reflect global numbers, along with information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Our taxonomic list includes all regularly occurring dove and pigeon species in the continental United States and Canada.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: ~8.4 million
U.S. Population Estimate: <12,000
U.S. Population Estimate: <500
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 1.4 million
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 400,000
U.S. Population Estimate: Very small; dwindling
U.S. Population Estimate: 710,000
U.S. Population Estimate: 2.1 million
U.S. Population Estimate: Unknown; a few reported each year
U.S. Population Estimate: <10,000
U.S. Population Estimate: 6 million
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 130 million
How Can I Help?
We all can do our part to protect North America's pigeons and doves.
American Bird Conservancy and our Joint Venture partners have improved conservation management on 6.4 million acres of U.S. bird habitat — an area larger than the state of Maryland — over the last ten years. This is a monumental undertaking, requiring the support of many, and you can help by making a gift today.
Policies enacted by Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have a huge impact on America's birds. You can help shape these rules for the better by telling lawmakers to prioritize birds, bird habitat, and bird-friendly measures. To get started, visit ABC's Action Center.
Finally, don't overlook the impact you can have at home. Living a bird-friendly life can have an immediate impact on the birds around you. Doing so can be as easy as adding native plants to your garden, avoiding pesticides, and keeping cats indoors. To learn more, visit our Bird-Friendly Life page.
|Kathryn Stonich teaches English for the Community College of Baltimore County and Bryant & Stratton College online. She is an avid backyard birder and advocate for pigeon and dove rescue.|