I have determined there are three different pigeons and doves (Columbidae) visiting my feeders. The dratted Eurasian Collared-Dove (seen to the right) visits in highest numbers, but also the Band-tailed Pigeon and the occasionally the sweet little Mourning Dove. I have observed Rock Doves (feral pigeons) in the area, but have not actually discovered them here.
In that the Mourning Dove was a recent visitor under the seed feeders, I thought the only other visiting Columbidae was that Eurasian Collared-Dove, until an acquaintance pointed out one day that we also have Band-tailed Pigeons (seen above) and how to tell the difference. I’m embarrassed at my cavalier attitude to these birds which inhibited my actually looking at them.
Here is about a most clumsy attempt at graphically showing what, for me, is the main field-marker for telling the Band-tailed Pigeon in flight, from the Eurasian Collared-Dove…which is similar size and at first glance and similarly colored. These are examples of their tails in flight. I find that noticing the green iridescence on their necks is dependent on the quality of the light available at the time. Besides, all these birds fly as soon as I open the door or even if they just see me move inside the house. But the tail tells all (for me); the Band-tailed Pigeon has a rounder tail and a wide, white band across the edge. The Eurasian Collared-dove has a more pointed tail with a bit of edging just at the outer edges.
Both birds are about 14” long, and sort of pale-gray, but the Band-tailed Pigeon has a lavender wash overall; making the bird appear almost rosy. Both birds have ‘collars’, too…though the Band-tailed Pigeon has a thin black line just below a broader white neck-ring at the back of the head. This bird also has a yellow, bblack-tipped bill. The Eurasian Collared-Dove has a dark neck-ring and dark bill.
The little Mourning Dove (seen to the right) is smaller, only about 12” and is darker and more slender. It’s overall gray-brown is accompanied by small black spots on it’s wing coverts. This bird has no collar and a long, very pointed tail.
The White-winged Dove has also been observed in this area, but I have not seen it. This bird is even smaller than the Mourning Dove, but is more stocky. It has broad wings and a short square tail. The upper wing coverts are white and form a narrow white edge along the folded wing. This bit of white makes a striking band in flight which contrasts with very dark primaries and blackish flight feathers.
Pigeons and doves are the only North American birds capable of suctioning water; so they can drink without the need to raise their heads, which allows water to run down the throat. These birds also have an unusual need for water, drinking up to 15% of their body weight each day.
Photos on this post from Wikipedia