Grey Dove vs Pigeon: (5 Valid Differences)

Hi there, if you have recently encountered a grey dove but are wondering whether it was a pigeon or a grey dove, this is an article for you. I will share some subtitle differences between grey dove vs pigeon in this article. In addition, you should note that this problem is quite common & you are not alone. Many people get confused when they first glance at these feathered creatures who appear quite similar.

However, some unique characteristics can help you tell them apart. Here you will be delving into the world of 5 key differences between grey doves vs. pigeons, exploring their physical attributes, behavior, and habitats. Later, I will also provide valuable tips to help them identify better & accurately. But before this, let’s begin with learning ‘Are grey doves pigeons?’.

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: 5 Key Differences 

Grey Doves vs. Pigeons: 5 Key Differences 

Before I tell you what the difference between grey doves vs pigeons is, it is important that you already know what exactly both of these species are. According to the research conducted by the ornithological society, pigeons & grey doves belong to the Columbidae family but fall under different genera. Below is the table to help you understand their genus & scientific name.

BirdScientific NameGenus
Grey DoveStreptopelia sp.Streptopelia
PigeonColumba liviaColumba

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: Physical Characteristics & Size 

One of the first things you must check when examining any species is its physical characteristics and size. One of the most apparent differences between grey doves & pigeons lies in their physical appearance. According to a study by the Life Science Education Trust, doves are known to have small & slender bodies compared to the larger & robust bodies of pigeons. Concerning the plumage color, pigeons are blessed with various colors, whereas a grey dove will only appear in grey-brownish coloration. Also, grey doves come with long & tapered tails with small & delicate heads, whereas pigeons will have rounded & shorter tails with bulky hair.

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: Habitat & Geographic Distribution

Even though it is common to spot both pigeons & grey doves together in urban settings, they tend to have varying habited preferences. While doing my research, I learned about the study of the Pigeon Control Resource Centre on the habitat preferences of doves & pigeons. According to them, grey doves are usually found in rural areas nesting in trees & bushes; in contrast, pigeons are more robust & well-adapted to urban environments, building nests on ledges, buildings, and even under bridges.

These nests can be a problem for you because pigeons can be nosy & their droppings are known to contain uric acid that can erode paint, cement, and metal. Fortunately, we’ve covered the topic of ‘why are pigeon nests so bad’ for you to check out. Also, we have shared an in-depth article on How To Stop Pigeons Nesting and How to Get Rid of Pigeon Nests.

But before you try to get rid of any pigeon nest from your property, I will advise you also to look at my guide, which covers the topic of ‘What Happens If You Destroy a Pigeon Nest.’ Now coming back to the point, let’s take a quote at what the major difference is between pigeons & grey doves in terms of behavior and social structures.

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: Feeding Habits & Diet 

When understanding what these beautiful creatures munch on, we find some common facts with small differences. After doing hours & hours of research, I learned that grey doves are primarily fed on seeds & grains, whereas pigeons are more diverse eaters who can eat seed grains, fruits & even human food scraps. We can say that our little friend pigeons are well adapted to urban settings & abundant food sources.

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: Communication & Vocalization

One of the fascinating things about birds is their exceptional vocalization capabilities. Birds communicate in fascinating ways; when we look at this species, like grey doves & pigeons, they are no exception. Grey doves are popular for producing soft cooing sounds, whereas pigeons are known for their characteristic coo-coo call. In terms of vocalization, each species has its unique way of communicating with its mates & fellow Birds. 

Grey Dove vs Pigeon: Nesting Behavior & Reproduction

If you look at the pigeon nesting habit and the nesting preferences of grey doves, you will be quite fascinated with the further distinctions. Based on the bird reproduction observatory research, grey doves construct relatively simple nests made up of twigs & leaves. On the other hand, pigeons are more famous for building elaborate nests using twigs, leaves, & other available materials.

Many people think pigeons don’t need it, but I’m afraid that’s wrong. During breeding season & mating season, pigeons nest are more common. To know more about this, consider reading my article on ‘How do pigeons nest? You will learn some unique insights into their nesting habits & how they engage in the courtship ritual to build nests together and strengthen their bonds to protect their Young.

Identifying Grey Doves & Pigeons

Identifying Grey Doves & Pigeons

After learning the major differences between grey dove vs pigeon, you might want to learn some practical steps that help identify both species in the wild. After interviewing some experienced bird watchers, I learned that tail shape, head size, and plumage color can provide you valuable insight into their identification. To tell both species apart, I will advise you to look at the tail shape & head size of the species you are looking at.

Grey doves are known to have long & taper tails with smaller & delicate heads, whereas pigeons will spot rounded tails with more substantial & robust heads. Also, if the bird is typically grey-brown, you are looking at the grey dove. Pigeons are known to exhibit a wide range of colors. Sometimes the place & the area you are at also provide valuable insight into their identification.

Pigeons are very common in urban areas & often spotted nesting on buildings, ledges, windowsills, balconies, & more. On the other hand, grey doves are less common in urban areas but largely distributed across rural areas. Hence you are more likely to spot doves at farms, grassland, & Woodlands. Indeed misidentifying any bird can happen to anyone & it is quite frustrating.

Therefore I have given my best to help you be aware of a look similar to species to avoid confusion, especially between pigeon vs grey dove. Grey doves are often confused with mourning doors, whereas pigeons are grey-doven for Rock doves. We have also shared an in-depth article on the difference between Rock Dove Vs Pigeon


Congratulations if you have read this article thoroughly & now you are well equipped with valuable knowledge about key differences between grey doves and pigeons. I have given my best to give you some valuable insights into the attributes starting from physical characteristics & behavior to their habitat preferences. I hope you are prepared to accurately identify these fascinating avian creatures next time you spot them.

If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Your share will help many people learn about both species that share many similarities but usually have different habitat preferences. Also, if you encounter a larger bird with a rounded tail with repetitive coo-coo calls in an urban environment, there is a high chance that you are looking at a pigeon.

On the other hand, if you spot A bird with a long tapered tail cooing softly in a rural area, you know it’s a dove. Do check my other helpful guides shared on this website on the relationship & identification between Pigeon Vs Dove. See you in the next post, till then, take care, goodbye.

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