There are more than 300 species of pigeons and doves, and many are among the most beautiful and colorful birds in the world. All are in the bird family Columbidae and share a range of traits, including a round body shape, delicate bill, and generally granivorous or frugivorous diets. Doves and pigeons can be found in many habitats, and their spectacular colors, intricate markings, and unique features help them blend into outstanding settings. Scroll through this gallery to learn more about the world's most beautiful pigeons and doves, including where you can visit to add these beauties to your life list.
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Scientific Name: Caloenas nicobarica
Range: From India through Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Palau, including many small islands in the same region.
The spectacular iridescent plumage, elongated gray neck feathers and pure white tail of the Nicobar pigeon are distinctive. This beauty is also a threat, because this bird is a popular target for illegal poaching. Habitat destruction also threatens Nicobar pigeons, but on small, less disturbed islands it can still thrive. Captive breeding programs have helped bring this bird to aviaries and zoos worldwide.Continue to 2 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Ptilinopus regina
Range: Southern Indonesia to coastal northern and eastern regions of Australia.
The rose-crowned fruit dove has rainbow plumage with its pink forehead, gray head and breast, yellow and orange abdomen and undertail coverts and green wings edged with a yellow wash. These medium-sized doves prefer rainforest habitats and eat not only fruit as their name suggests, but also palm leaves and tropical vines. Widespread in their range, these doves are not threatened or endangered despite population decreases.Continue to 3 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Phaps chalcoptera
Range: Endemic to Australia.
There is nothing common about the stunning plumage of the common bronzewing, and its most fantastic marking is the rainbow of iridescence that shows along its wings. Males and females are similar, though females have duller colors and less overall iridescence. Within Australia, these are adaptable birds found in many habitats, though they prefer to avoid the driest deserts and the densest rainforests.Continue to 4 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Geophaps plumifera
Range: Endemic to Australia.
While many of the fruit-doves common in Australia avoid the continent's driest regions, the spinifex pigeon actually prefers dry, rocky habitats. There, its rusty-colored plumage and dark gray and black striations blend in well for ideal camouflage. The boldly marked face stands out, as does the thin, tall crest. While there is some pet trade in these unusual birds, the population is relatively stable and they are not considered threatened.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Ocyphaps lophotes
Range: Endemic to Australia.
Larger than its cousin the spinifex pigeon, the crested pigeon is more simply marked with black barring on the gray shoulders, iridescence showing in the white-outlined primary feathers and secondary feathers and a dark tail with a white tip. The overall soft gray plumage with a pink wash on the side of the neck is ideal camouflage for a range of habitats, and the thin crest is quite tall for the bird's size. These birds can be found in many grasslands, scrub areas and agricultural regions of Australia.Continue to 6 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Goura victoria
Range: Southern Indonesia to Papua New Guinea.
This bird's plumage may not be a rainbow, but its jewel tone blue overall color and rich burgundy breast is distinctive. Its most unique feature, however, is the wide, lacy crest, with each feather tipped with white. The black mask and red-eye also stand out, giving this pigeon an elegant expression. Named for the British monarch Queen Victoria, this bird is certainly royal in its appearance and is popular in captivity in zoos and aviaries.Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Treron bicinctus
Range: From India through southeast Asia to southern Indonesia.
This dove is common across its range wherever tropical forests are available with abundant fruit supplies, though habitat destruction is causing population declines. The soft colors of its plumage lack the harsh lines of prominent field marks many other colorful doves have, but the stunning colors – yellow, green, pink, orange and gray – blend together beautifully. This dove has a gentle appearance that makes it even more peaceful and lovely.Continue to 8 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Gallicolumba luzonica
Range: Endemic to the northern Philippines.
A first glance at the bold red spot on this bird's chest can be alarming because the bright red shade that drips into a red wash can look like a severe injury. This is a distinct field mark for the Luzon bleeding-heart, however, and these doves also have pale yellow underparts, gray-blue iridescent upperparts, and wide wing bars. The purple nape and white throat are great contrasts to its other colors. Logging and hunting are taking its toll on this species, and its numbers are rapidly declining.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Gallicolumba crinigera
Range: Endemic to the southern Philippines.
Another of the bleeding-heart doves, the Mindanao bleeding-heart has more jewel tone colors than other species. The namesake breast spot is also more clearly defined, and in bright sunlight, its green neck glitters like an emerald. These birds are vulnerable to habitat loss through deforestation and illegal logging, however, and other threats include hunting for food and illegal poaching for the pet trade.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Ducula bicolor
Range: Myanmar through Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
A plain black and white bird might not seem beautiful at first glance, but the pied imperial-pigeon is an elegant dove with simple plumage and a gentle visage. Its pied plumage is white all over the body, with black primary feathers that stand out in rich contrast both when perched and in flight. The dark eyes look even larger in the white face, amplifying this bird's gentle appearance.Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Chalcophaps indica
Range: Widespread in southeastern Asia from India through Thailand and Vietnam, southern China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Australia.
The emerald dove's brilliant green wings with dark primary feathers are its signature feature, but its pink neck and throat, white forehead and eyebrow and faint purple crown are equally lovely. This common species has a large range where it can be found in wet rainforests, woodlands, gardens and similar habitats. Where those habitats are disappearing, however, these birds are decreasing.Continue to 12 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Columba guinea
Range: Sub-Saharan Africa.
Also called the African rock dove, the speckled pigeon is widespread in rocky or scrubby open areas. Its range spreads throughout Sub-Saharan Africa as well as urban and suburban regions, though it is missing from the deepest jungles. Its buff, gray and rusty plumage is flecked with white, and the elongated neck feathers add distinct texture to its appearance. The wide red patch of bare skin around the yellow eye also gives this bird a bold and unmistakable expression.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Scientific Name: Columba livia
Many birders overlook the common rock pigeon when considering beautiful pigeons, yet this bird's blue-gray plumage, iridescent neck, and dark wing bars can be quite handsome. In feral populations in cities worldwide, these pigeons often develop a wide range of unusual colorations, from white to brown to red, giving them even more variety. Native to rocky cliffs of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, these birds have been introduced worldwide and are considered invasive in many areas.