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European turtle doveEuropean turtle dove Pigeons are a family of round-bodied birds with short necks and legs. Some species are known as doves. There are more than 300 species in the family (scientific name Columbidae), found all over the world. Most kinds feed on seeds and fruits, but a few prey on insects, worms, snails and even small reptiles. Unlike most birds, pigeons can produce milk for their young, which they do from a gland in their necks. Pigeons are among the fastest flyers. Their powerful wings can keep them airborne for long periods. Racing pigeons, domestic descendants of rock doves, are experts at finding their way “home” over long distances.

Feral pigeonFeral pigeon

Urban pigeons

The feral pigeon, a familiar resident of many major towns and cities, is descended from escaped domestic pigeons. These in turn evolved from the wild rock dove, which already had a large range across Europe, Asia and Africa. Now it is found in urban areas in every continent. Naturally adapted to living on cliffs and mountains, feral pigeons roost on rooftops and ledges of buildings. They have adapted their diet to include scraps and pieces of bread thrown to them by people. 

Victoria crowned pigeonVictoria crowned pigeon


The smallest pigeon, the common ground dove, is about the same size as a sparrow.

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