Are All Doves White? – Everything You Need to Know!

White dove flying

White doves are one of the most popular birds in the world, and with good reason. They are known for their beauty, gracefulness, and gentleness — all traits that have made this species a favorite among bird lovers worldwide.

Also, a white dove bird signifies peace, protection, freedom, spirituality, and love, which is why it is often used in many kinds of rituals. This has led to a great deal of speculation regarding whether or not all doves are white.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about white doves. From common questions like, “Are white doves pigeons?” to “What color are doves really?” this guide will dive deep into the topic of doves.

Are All Doves White?

Adult doves side by side

Although it is commonly believed that all doves are white, this is far from the truth. In reality, doves come in a wide variety of colors. These birds can be pink, yellow, bluish-grey, or even speckled with black.

However, it should be noted that the confusion over doves’ color has existed for a long time. In fact, during medieval times, white doves were believed by some to be angels in disguise.

It is possible that this may be one of the reasons why people were so quick to assume that all doves were only white-pigmented. Unfortunately, even up until the present day, this misconception still persists.

For starters, doves are from the Columbidae family, which consists of a total of 344 different species. From this information alone, it is safe to say that these birds come in a pretty diverse range.

In other words, even though the dove bird is the most recognized variant, its differently-colored cousins should not be overlooked. All in all, they are just as beautiful as the traditional white dove and deserve equal praise.

Are White Doves Pigeons?

To start, white doves are not a type of pigeon. The fact that white doves and pigeons are from the same family of birds, the Columbidae, is not even a matter of debate.

It is worth noting that although they are closely related, they are still two distinct species.

As far as appearances are concerned, they share many similarities. They both maintain smooth feathers, long tails, and tapered wings. Furthermore, they both possess slender body structures and short limbs.

That said, it is quite evident that their size is what significantly differentiates them from each other. White doves tend to be slightly smaller than pigeons, which makes them easier to identify in the wild and to keep as pets.

You will also find that a white dove bird is not as plump as a pigeon when compared side by side with one another.

To see the distinction, here’s a picture of a white dove:

White dove about to land

On the other hand, here is a photo of a pigeon:

Pigeon walking on concrete

Another physical trait that clearly separates these two types of birds is their tails. While both exhibit long ones, anticipate the white dove birds have more of a fanned-out back end.

Meanwhile, their pigeon counterparts’ tails appear to be more tapered at the base.

I once had the chance to observe these two birds in my friend’s aviary, where both are raised. In terms of behavior, I can describe the white doves to be very calm, friendly, peaceful, and cooperative.

On the other hand, the pigeons seem to be more assertive yet still relatively social and docile.

Despite all these differences, note that in most countries around the world — including here in the United States — the terms “dove” or “pigeon” are interchangeably used when referring to these birds, albeit technically incorrect.

Is It Rare to See a White Dove?

For those who are pertaining to a naturally occurring white dove, yes, it is rare to see one. Most of the time, the white doves you encounter are albino, and this is usually caused by a genetic mutation of the melanin gene.

That said, if you think about it, the whiteness of these doves is not that admirable, given that they have albinism. One implication of this is that they have no camouflage abilities, a common defense mechanism in birds.

This is likely one of the things that makes them rare; they can’t blend into their environment very well, which makes it easier for hawks, eagles, opossums, raccoons, skunks, foxes, dogs, cats, and snakes to spot them.

Regardless, one should note that the population of doves generally is not affected because of albinism; however, it is still a disadvantage for them when looking for food or shelter amidst other creatures.

Yet, since many spiritualists have also branded the white dove bird as a rare and mystical animal, some people may tend to believe that these flying critters are very hard to find — but that is not accurate at all.

What Different Colors Can Doves Have?

Dove perched on a tree stump

If you ever stumbled upon the question, “What color is a dove?” it would come in handy to know the different dove colors. For starters, these winged species can come in many different hues, such as brown, gray, black, and blue.

Here’s a list of the different colors and markings that can be found in doves:

  • White
  • Black
  • Gray
  • Blue
  • Buffy-tan
  • Brown
  • Orange
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Tangerine
  • Red
  • Blue-barred
  • White-barred
  • Red-barred
  • Checkered
  • Pied
  • Tri-colored

As you can see, it is clear that doves are not simply birds with one color; they have many options when it comes to their pigmentation. This allows them to adapt to their environment and survive different situations.

As an example, a brown-colored dove has a better chance of surviving than a white one because it is able to camouflage itself against its surroundings.

To put it simply, if doves, or all birds for that matter, can blend into their setting and avoid any sort of detection, they will be less likely to be harmed by predators.

Watch this video to see some adorable colored doves:

Color Variations of Ringneck Doves

What Kind of Doves Are White?

More often than not, white-colored doves are Barbary doves. They can sometimes be called ringed turtle doves, ringneck doves, ring-necked turtle doves, or ring doves, but they all refer to the same thing.

Barbary doves are native to eastern and southern Africa and are known for their beautiful white feathers. They are also the only kind of dove that can be completely white, as they innately carry the gene for it.

So if you have recently attended a wedding or other event where white birds have been used as decorations, chances are that they were white-pigmented Barbary doves.

However, as with other dove types, you should keep in mind that the Barbary dove is not a one-color bird, as it comes in many tints ranging from black through red to blue and yellow hues.

How Many Different Types of Doves Are There?

According to experts, there are a total of 344 different types of doves and pigeons worldwide. This only indicates that there is a considerable amount of doves with different colors, shapes, and sizes.

To help you get started, below are some of the most common dove types:

White-winged Dove

White winged dove

Probably the only type of dove with the term “white” in its name, the white-winged dove is a medium-sized bird that is native to the United States.

However, true to their moniker, their light tint is only limited to their wings, just like other birds with white wing stripes.

In fact, they are also classified as one of the types of gray birds. You’ll notice that the rest of their feathers are dark brown, gray, and blackish-green.

Mourning Dove

Mourning dove

With its sorrowful song, the mourning dove is just as iconic as the white dove. The soft plumage of these birds gives them the appearance of an angel in flight. Mourning Doves and their chicks are most commonly seen in North America.

Turtle Dove

Turtle dove

Finally, meet the turtle dove. Native to southern and eastern England, these birds are recognizable for their checkered-like, bright orange markings on their wings, neck, and tail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dove side profile while perched on a branch

Are All White Doves Albino?

In general, most white doves are albinos, meaning they exhibit an absence of pigment in their feathers. This implies albino doves are light all over except for their eyes, nib, legs, and feet, which are pink or red in tint.

On the flip side, white doves that are non-albino are rare in nature. However, their rarity is not due to genetics but rather environmental facets such as predation and geographic location.

Either way, both albino and non-albino white doves can be seen throughout the world because of their ability to adapt to various habitats. But to answer the question, not all white doves are albino.

What Does It Mean If You See a White Dove?

In the past, a white dove bird was seen as a sign of freedom, peace, love, protection, and hope. The bird itself is a symbol of righteousness and innocence, and its white feathers represent the purity of the soul.

As a result, many individuals have used them in festivities, such as weddings and baby showers, to symbolize a special message. In fact, they are even used in funeral services to represent harmony and comfort.

That said, even if you see a white dove bird today — whether it’s at your birthday party or in your yard — you should be aware that its essence has changed over time. Today’s white doves may not mean what they once did.

Where Do White Doves Live?

In the United States, the white dove can be found in every state. It is widespread throughout much of Central and South America as well as some parts of North America; you are not limited to only one area to locate them.

In truth, white doves can adjust to just about any territory. From forests and woodlands to cities and suburbs, these birds are so versatile that they can find their way around no matter what kind of terrain there is around them.

They will even make it through harsh conditions like freezing temperatures or hot climates if they need to. This makes them even more than just a sign of tranquility — they are also a real asset for wildlife conservation efforts.

What Do White Doves Eat?

Depending on the current weather conditions, white doves can eat a variety of foods. For one, during the summer season, they will eat berries and other fruits. In wintertime, they will consume seeds, grains, and other vegetation.

In captivity, white doves are fed a specialized diet devised to make them thrive. The diet consists of two parts: one portion is made up of oats and grains, while the second part is made up of tiny pellets filled with nutrients.

Still, bear in mind that it’s not unusual to feed a white dove bird crickets, snails, or worms. Protein and carbs are essential for their survival, so do not be surprised to see this flying white creature eating something peculiar.

Are you a fan of these light-colored birds? Don’t forget to drop your thoughts about white doves in the comments! Let us know if you have questions, too!

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