Pigeons belong to the family of birds known as Columbidae. There are a number of varieties in the wild while several breeds are also kept as pets. Most domestic Columbidae types of pigeon differ merely in color. Discussed below are the varieties which possess some distinct features on the basis of which they can be easily distinguished from the other breeds.
Feral Rock Pigeons
One of the most common types of pigeon is known as feral rock pigeon. This blue variety is well-adapted to survive in the cities and suburbs. Owing to this reason, flocks of feral rock pigeons can be seen foraging around for bird food or on roosts in public places. Therefore, they are commonly referred to as street pigeons or city doves.
Feral rock pigeons often cross breed with other types of domestic pigeons. As a result, the color and variations in the features of the plumage are passed down to the upcoming generations.
Another common variety which belongs to the Columbidae family is known as homing pigeons. The color of their plumage is blue or white or – more commonly – a combination of both. Their distinguishing feature is the strength of their muscles and flying ability. For this reason, homing pigeons are raced on special events, such as weddings or sports events. They are, therefore, also known as racing pigeons. The word “homing” is used for this variety owing to the natural homing instinct of these birds. They can be trained to return to a loft after being raced.
Homing pigeons possess distinctive bands which help in their recognition. Often, if the bird is lost, it can be traced through the banding information and returned to its owner.
Band Tailed Pigeons
One of the wild types of pigeons is the band tailed pigeon. As the name implies, members of this variety possess a banded tail which is grey in color. In addition, an iridescent patch exists at the nape of the neck which is another one of their distinctive features. Both the feet as well as the beak are yellow in color. These pigeons do not exhibit large variations in color as in the case of feral rock pigeons. Moreover, banded tailed pigeons are rather large in size with an average length of fourteen to eighteen inches.
The natural habitat of this special variety of pigeons is found in areas of North America as well as the Pacific Coast. These birds prefer lurking around in trees. Therefore, they are not only found in coniferous forests, but also on deciduous trees. The most favorite food of band tailed pigeons consists of acorns, berries and grains.
One of the fancy breeds of pigeons is called the African Owl. The short beaks of these pigeons make them resemble owls. This special variety has been developed over a number of years through the process of selective breeding. Once originated, African Owl was introduced to England from Tunisia in the nineteenth century.
Members of this variety are the descendents of rock pigeon. One of their most distinctive features is known as the jabot. It consists of a crest of feathers which run down the chest of the bird. It is also often referred to as the tie of the African Owl. On the other hand, these pigeons consist of smooth heads with no distinctive arrangement of feathers. Their body is short in size and plump in stature. In addition, the beak is also small and pointed downwards which resembles the beak of owls.
American Show Racer
A special variety of homing pigeons is known as the American Show Racer. This breed has been developed through cross breeding by selecting the best racing varieties. The first breed of the American Show Racer was developed in the United States in 1950s. This bird is popularly referred to as the Bird of Dignity. It is used on special occasions such as opening ceremonies of sporting events and weddings.
One of the fancy varieties of pigeons developed through selective breeding is known as the trumpeters. Members of this distinct breed are descendants of the rock pigeon. The distinguishing feature of trumpeter pigeons is their special cooing. It sounds like human laughter or trumpeting.
The group of trumpeter pigeons is further divided into several varieties. They exhibit slight variation in colors and other physical features, but produce the same characteristic trumpeting sounds while cooing. The most common varieties of these pigeons are listed below.
- Arabian Trumpeter
- Vogtland Trumpeter
- Franconian Trumpeter
- Altenberg Trumpeter
- Dresden Trumpeter
- Bokhara Trumpeter
- English Trumpeter
One of the most beautiful kinds of pigeons is the archangel. Since it belongs to the group of fancy pigeons, it is popularly kept as a pet or used for exhibition in zoos or bird shows. The unique feature of an archangel pigeon is its attractive feathers which exhibit a metallic sheen. Other than the feathers, its eyes are also attractive. The vivid dark orange color of the iris truly stands out. The bird’s wings are long and extend up to the tail. However, the overall size of the body itself is small. It weighs only around twelve oz.
The capuchines consist of one of the most bizarre looking group of pigeons. This fancy breed originated in the sixteenth century. It is, therefore, one of the oldest varieties of pigeons. Dutch sailors introduced this variety to Holland from India.
The most unique trait of capuchine pigeons is the set of rosettes found on either side of the neck. The front part of these rosettes forms a chain which runs down the hood. This chain appears in the form of a “U” when the bird is viewed from the front.
There are many other breeds of pigeons as well. Indeed, it is one of the most common types of birds which exist in a large number of varieties all around the globe.