The Amazing Diversity of Pigeons

National Pigeon Association
National Pigeon Association
National Pigeon Association

The Amazing Diversity of Pigeons

Studying pigeon genetics could offer insight into how various traits have evolved in wild birds. 

By Alisa Opar
Published: 05/21/2012

Free-living pigeons are so ubiquitous they often go unnoticed, yet the species is remarkably diverse. The 350-plus breeds display traits ranging from curly feathers to stumpy beaks. But similar-looking pigeons aren't necessarily closely related, reveals a study of 70 domestic breeds and two free-living populations. For instance, both English trumpeters and English pouters have feathers, not scales, on their feet, but they aren't genetically similar. Conversely, two owl pigeons, the short-beaked African and the Old German, are closely related (though the former has a plain head while the latter sports an impressive crest). Investigating the genetic origins of pigeon diversity could help shed light on how similar traits--vital for survival and reproduction--have evolved in wild birds. "It would be great to cross a toucan and an owl to try to figure out what controls beak development," says Michael Shapiro, a University of Utah biologist and lead author of the study. "Obviously you can't do that, but you can cross domestic pigeons."

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Alisa Opar

Alisa Opar is the articles editor at Audubon magazine. Follow her on Twitter @alisaopar.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


Wow! How can we have such

Wow! How can we have such beautiful Pigeons like this. May I find out such Pigeons in Minneapolis, US?


These pigeons look so

These pigeons look so beautiful. I really want to own the one like that.

Make sure if have all good

Make sure if have all good situation and things alike.

Where do we find these cute

Where do we find these cute pigeons? Make sure they are good with status.

They look so nice..This is

They look so nice..This is the first time I see this kind of pigeons.

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These good pigeons can be the

These good pigeons can be the best things I ever seen before. Love to see this and share with other places.


This was so interesting, but I wish you'd labelled the pictures of the pigeons. I'd love to know the names of the birds shown. Thanks!


Pigeons are my favorite bird. <3

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