Guide to pigeons and doves of the UK
Five species of pigeon and dove can be found in the UK countryside – three common, two extremely rare. Find out more with our quick-fire guide
There are five species of pigeon and dove in the UK countryside. Three of them are common – wood pigeon, collared dove and stock dove – and two are extremely rare – turtle dove and rock dove.
There is no major difference between these five species, all of which share many of the same features. Their heads are small, their bills slim, and their bodies are round. They have short, scaly legs and are well-known for their cooing calls.
Which species of pigeon live in the city?
Pigeons are one of the most common species of bird found in our towns and cities. These 'feral' pigeons descended from domestic pigeons. which were originally bred from wild – and now rare – rock doves.
Which family do doves and pigeons belong to?
Pigeons and doves belong to the bird family Columbidae. There are 344 species of Columbidae in the world, split into 50 genera. Five of these species reside in the UK.
What do doves and pigeons eat?
Doves and pigeons primarily feed on fruits, berries, seeds and plants. They may also eat insects and spiders.
Types of pigeons and doves in the UK
Our smallest dove with gorgeous tortoiseshell feathering on back and wings. Purring call is a delight. A migrant, it arrives on farmland in late spring but UK population has dropped by 95% since 1970.
Find out more about turtle doves.
A small dove of farms, parks, gardens and woods, it was first recorded in the UK in the 1950s but is now very common. Pale, pinkish grey, with a black neck stripe; its call resembles “un-i-ted, un-i-ted”.
Find out more about collared doves.
Our largest pigeon with a mauve chest, white nape and white wing patches that help identify the bird in flight. Very common in gardens, parks, woods and farmland. Call has been described as “take two cows Taffy”.
More like this
Find out more about wood pigeons.
The wild ancestor of domestic pigeons and thus the ‘town pigeon’. Pure rock doves are rare and, in the British Isles, now found only on the coasts of north and west Scotland and Ireland where they nest on cliffs.
Find out more about rock pigeons.
A bird of wooded farmland with similar plumage to the wild rock dove but with a jet-black eye. It lacks the wood pigeon’s white feathers. Has a delicious insistent brooding call. Numbers have declined recently.
Find out more about stock doves.