Are Pigeons Native To North America

Pigeons are one of the most common bird species found worldwide. But are pigeons native to North America?

In this article, we will explore the origins of pigeons in North America and their impact on the ecosystem. We will also discuss the different pigeon species found in North America, their food sources, and nesting habits.

If you are curious about whether or not pigeons are native to North America, then read on to uncover the fascinating history of these birds in the region.

Are Pigeons Native To North America

Are Pigeons Native To North America

Although often found in urban areas across the globe, pigeons are not native to North America – Instead, they were introduced to the region during the 1600s. As descendants of their ancestors in Europe, the rocky cliffs they once inhabited have been mirrored in the form of city buildings and window ledges.

Where are pigeons originally from?

Pigeons are naturally found living in the wild across Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. However, due to their adaptability and resilience, they have managed to spread their wings and establish themselves in a variety of urban environments worldwide.

The pigeon species is characterized by its abundance, with a staggering estimate of 17 to 28 million feral and wild birds in Europe alone. This number skyrockets to 120 million when considering flocks worldwide.

The common pigeons are not native to North America

The common pigeons are not native to North America but were introduced to the region during the 1600s. Descendants of their European ancestors, these birds have adapted to urban environments and are now found in many cities across the continent. Pigeons have a remarkable ability to thrive in a variety of habitats, making them a familiar sight in many places.

Pigeons You See Around Are Not Native to North America

The common pigeons found in North America are not native to this continent. Inhabitants of North America believe that these birds evolved from the Rock Dove of Eurasia. However, they were domesticated 3000 years ago. Settlers from Britain and other countries brought these birds to North America, considering them a source of comfort from home.

Pigeons Can Weigh Up to 1.5 Pounds and Live Up to 16 Years

The majority of pigeon species weigh around one pound (1/2 kg). Nonetheless, certain breeds can reach a weight of 1.5 pounds, but they are generally used for consumption. Pigeons have a long lifespan, often living 15 to 16 years.

Pigeons Have the Ability to Find Their Way Home

Pigeons are known to find their way home from very far away, which has proven significant throughout history. This ability has been utilized during wars, ranging from Roman Legions to World War 2. Furthermore, pigeon racing has been a popular sport for centuries.

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Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing is a unique sport in which birds are taken a long way away from their home to a specified starting point. The birds are released, and their time is scrutinized accurately. Once released, the pigeons head home. When a pigeon reaches its home, its owner has to remove a metal device from its leg and put it into a special clock, which stops the clock. This clock-measuring system helps pigeon owners determine their bird’s speed during the race.

Training Homing Pigeons

Homing pigeons must be trained to return home from afar. To begin training, the bird is taken out one mile away from its home and let loose. If the bird returns home, training continues by slowly increasing their distance from home, two miles, four miles, and so on. Eventually, the bird is released from the racing starting point and allowed to fly home. In good racing conditions, the pigeon can fly up to 2000 miles or more, making them invaluable on the racing circuit. Some birds even manage to locate their home on moving ships at sea. Proven race pigeons’ costs can range from several hundred to thousand dollars.

Varieties of Pigeons

More than 200 types of pigeons, including Homers, exist. Fantails, with enormous tails, are some of these, while pouters have a crop that can fill with air, making their upper body appear as if they have swallowed a balloon. Tumblers fly high into the sky before plummeting almost to the ground. Jacobins have substantial feather ruffs, and Trumpeters have large feathers on their feet. Kings and Runt varieties are the largest and are used for meat. Squab (juvenile pigeons) is featured on many high-end hotel menus.

Pigeon Species Are Here to Stay

The domestic pigeon (Columba livia), which was brought to North America with settlers and has survived well on this continent, can be found on every continent in the world. Despite their abundance and ability to become a nuisance, they are truly adaptable and appear to be here to stay.

Pigeons Of North America

North America is home to seven species of native pigeons, with the most common being the mourning dove. Owing to their pleasant vocalizations, these birds are named after their soulful cooing. Although migratory in Northern regions, suburban birds can survive winters in warmer regions provided they have consistent access to food sources.

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The other native pigeon species have a relatively southern distribution, with the band-tailed pigeon, white-winged dove, and ground dove being found in the Southwest and Southeast.

The white-crowned pigeon is limited to the Florida Keys and some surrounding regions in mainland North America for observation.

While hunting for sport may be practiced wherever these birds are abundant, overhunting has driven the passenger pigeon to extinction, which was once a common bird, sold in urban markets.

The domestic pigeon

The domestic pigeon is a type of rock dove that is bred for consumption. Typically, it’s the young birds or squabs that are eaten. This bird has a strong affinity for its nesting and roosting place. It is also known for its exceptional homing abilities, which humans have exploited through the use of “carrier pigeons” to deliver messages over long distances.

Although radio and other forms of communication have largely replaced pigeons as carriers, breeds of racing birds are still tested to see how well they can find their way home. Scientists have speculated for years as to how pigeons navigate, with some theories citing magnetic fields and others odors. Recent evidence suggests that pigeons use their sense of smell as the primary means of finding their way home.

People have selectively bred domestic pigeons into unique varieties with different colored feathers and unusual body shapes. These fancy pigeon breeds are traded in clubs where enthusiasts avidly compare and sell them.

Feral pigeons are domestic pigeons that have escaped and are now breeding freely. Most Feral pigeons often inhabit built-up urban areas, but sometimes breed in more natural habitats. Although they are considered pests, their ability to survive in cities makes them a positive aesthetic addition to urban areas.

Pigeons are often hand-fed in public places where they are easy to approach. Other types of pigeons, including the turtle dove, Spotted Dove, and Collared Dove, are kept as pets but can sometimes escape and create feral populations outside of their natural habitat.

The passenger pigeon

The extinction of the passenger pigeon is a tragic example of the devastating impact humans can have on the environment. This migratory species, which originally inhabited southeastern North America, was once the world’s most abundant land bird, estimated to number between three to five billion individuals at its peak. Its flocks were so large that they could take hours to pass, and would obscure the sun on clear days.

The passenger pigeon’s migration and breeding patterns, along with its physical characteristics, made it vulnerable to being hunted in large quantities by commercial hunters who sold the carcasses in urban markets.

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Despite warnings from naturalists of the time about the unsustainable nature of this exploitation, the species was hunted relentlessly using guns, clubs, nets, and even smoke. Shockingly, there were an estimated one billion passenger pigeons in Michigan alone in 1869.

The combination of overhunting and loss of habitat through deforestation and agriculture proved to be too much for the passenger pigeon population, and by the early twentieth century, the species had become extinct.

Nesting attempts by passenger pigeons in the wild ceased to be recorded after 1894, and the final known passenger pigeon passed away while in captivity in 1914.

The story of the passenger pigeon serves as a sobering reminder of the incredible impact humans can have on the environment. It is a stark illustration of the dangers of uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources and a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts in preserving critical habitats and species.


Are pigeons native to North America?

Feral pigeons (also known as domestic pigeons) are present in North America, but they are not native species. The only native species of pigeon that was once found in North America was the passenger pigeon, which went extinct in 1914 due to overhunting and habitat loss.

What do feral pigeons look like?

A. Feral pigeons are typically dark gray or brownish with white patches on their wings and heads and have iridescent feathers on their necks and chests. They have short beaks and rounded bodies with long wings.

Where do feral pigeons live?

Feral pigeons usually inhabit cities and other built-up areas, although they sometimes breed in more natural habitats as well.

Why are feral pigeons considered pests?

A. Feral pigeons can be a nuisance when abundant, soiling statues and buildings with their excrement, and sometimes fouling people walking along streets or in parks.


This article sheds light on the question- are pigeons native to North America or not? Through extensive research, it has been established that while there are several pigeon species found in North America, none of them are truly native to the continent.

By providing this information, the article can help readers understand the history and evolution of pigeon populations in North America.

Additionally, readers will gain a better understanding of the impact that introduced species, such as feral pigeons, have had on the ecosystem.

Overall, this article serves as a valuable resource for those interested in pigeon species and their impact on North America.

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of I have kept pigeons as pets for over 20 years and have written several articles. Here in this blog, I cover topics such as how to care for pigeons, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.