12 Types of Pigeons in California

Types of Pigeons in California
Photo by GAIMARD

California has more than 60 species of wild birds found throughout the state. Some of these birds are more common than others, and some have found their way here from neighboring states and other countries. 

Two of the most common types of pigeons in California are the European collared dove and the ring-necked dove, which each have distinctive features that make them easy to identify in their natural habitat and captivity.

Here’s what you need to know about these types of pigeons in California! 

1. Fancy Pigeon

Like every other type of animal, many kinds of pigeons exist in California. One such variety is known as Fancy Pigeon.

Fancy pigeons originated on the European continent and have been developed by breeding for their appearance rather than their ability to be valuable birds.

Despite being bred primarily for their beauty, they can still vary in size and color. While not very popular with bird fanciers because they do not take well to being housed outdoors like typical pigeons, these fancy varieties still interest those who want a type of pigeon that is more decorative than practical.

2. Rock pigeon

The rock pigeon is the most common species found in California, and this variety is well-known for its large size, high population, and generally aggressive nature.

Rock pigeons are typically grayish brown with distinctive pink feet. They have black necks, whiteheads, and white wing patches, unlike other kinds of pigeons. 

These types of pigeons in California prefer roosting on ledges at night and like to nest on tall structures like buildings or telephone poles because predators such as hawks or raccoons find it hard to reach them.

In some areas, they even nest on roofs because the added height increases their chances of survival during the egg-rearing season by making it more difficult for cats and other predators to get their clutches while unattended at their nests.

3. Tailed pigeon

The Tailed pigeon is only found in Northern and Central California coastal regions. They are often seen foraging near marine shorelines and mangroves.

These types of pigeons in California have a variety of color patterns, from primarily black, grey, and brown plumage to more colorful combinations such as white with blue or green highlights. 

Tailed pigeons also feature a banded tail at about one-third the length of their body that starts at the forehead and runs down their back, stopping just past halfway along their tail feathers.

It’s not yet known what its function is. Still, it’s hypothesized that it may be used to make these types of pigeons in California less visible when swimming in open water or look more prominent when roosting together on rooftops where they’re vulnerable to raptors.

4. Homing pigeon

The most common type of pigeon you’ll find across America is the homing pigeon. They’re known for their ability to locate their way home from incredible distances, making them the perfect carrier pigeon. 

This type is relatively minor and usually has a more stubby appearance than other types of pigeons in California. And if you come across one with an orange ring around its neck, it’s very likely that it has lost its owner and will be looking for someone to adopt it. 

5. Feral pigeon

Pigeons that live on the street are often referred to as feral pigeons. Feral pigeons can be distinguished from other types’ aggressive behavior, large size, and blotchy, unkempt feathers. Feral pigeons often scavenge for food and will defecate and urinate everywhere. 

They can also carry disease, and any bird feeding a feral pigeon should immediately stop doing so. The best way to avoid them is using spikes or deterrents such as loud noises or an air gun.

If they get into your home, it’s important not to let them out again. It’s illegal in most states to kill a feral pigeon without proper licensing.

6. Racing pigeon

Pigeons have been used as messengers for centuries. In Ancient Greece and Rome, live pigeons were released with a message tied around their leg and relied on their ability to find their way home.

Today, we rely on them for aerial photography, military support, and some more day-to-day purposes.

One group of pigeons that many don’t think about is racing pigeons. Racing pigeons are explicitly bred for speed, the ability to make it home before other members of their species, or both.

The idea is that one pigeon will win every time and is often considered a riskier but potentially higher return form of investment than your typical stocks or bonds due to their variability.

7. Band Tailed pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is about two feet tall and has a brown head with light feathering, reddish brown eyes, black feet, and a dark gray-brown neck.

It also has streaks on its tail that form a band at its end. These types of pigeons in California are seen mainly in mountainous areas up to 7,000 feet. 

This species is not currently endangered but is considered vulnerable due to human disturbance, heavy livestock grazing, competition from domestic pigeon populations, and invasive plant species that reduce habitat quality.

The mourning dove is small (about 15 inches), weighing less than 1 pound, and primarily gray or buff-colored with dark spots on its head and neck with striped markings under its eyes.

8. King pigeon

The king pigeon is a small bird and typically weighs no more than 12.5 ounces. They are furtive and are known to be timid with strangers, but they will react aggressively if they feel threatened or cornered. 

The color scheme on the king pigeon ranges from dull brown to dark blue with a white collar that can often have red or black speckles.

If you’re interested in taking care of these adorable creatures, it’s important to note that their diet consists mainly of rice-based grains, pulses, green vegetables, corn, and seeds, so you’ll want to make sure your food dish is well-stocked with this type of food.

9. White Crowned Pigeon

The White Crowned Pigeon, or Peristera albifrons, is native to California and prefers open forests, grasslands, and meadows.

They usually avoid humans if possible but can be found in nearby towns with decent-sized trees. Nesting pairs will build their nests on the branches of tree limbs high above the ground. 

The nests are made with pieces of leaves collected from plants and trees or human-made nesting boxes that are on a branch near the nesting pair’s preferred location.

They generally lay a clutch consisting of two eggs twice a year and have been known to hatch out both clutches within one day.

This behavior could adapt to predators coming close to their nests, so one group gets eaten while the other doesn’t.

10. Roller Pigeon

The roller pigeon is a prolific breeder, so they are often used by commercial or hobbyist breeders to increase their stock.

Roller pigeons are believed to originate from Asia, and their migratory patterns may have influenced some of the earliest breeding practices. 

In addition, they were probably among the first domesticated animals because they were so easy to keep captive, and their meat was reasonably prized in ancient times.

Unlike many other species of pigeons, roller pigeons build high nests on a balcony railing or fire escape, sometimes on a roof.

11. Fantail Pigeon

One type is the fantail pigeon, which resembles a common dove with a more pointy beak and chestnut head. The eyes are beady, though not as dark-eyed or aggressive as those of Eurasian collared doves. The feathers on this bird’s back have shorter tips and appear slightly messy. 

This bird is found mainly in Southern California, with fewer sightings in Central and Northern areas. They often coexist with other types of pigeons in California, like feral rock doves and ring-necked doves. 

It will perch around low branches before flying off quickly after foraging for food scraps left by humans nearby. Feeding on seed heads scattered along sidewalks or seeding lawns can also be observed.

12. Ring-necked dove

These are so named because they have a patch of brown feathers around the neck that looks like a necklace, or as they call it in Italian – clarino.

Ring-necked doves can often be found on rooftops because they often enjoy sunning themselves on the building’s ledges or flat surfaces such as statues.


It is essential to know that there are different types of pigeons in California, and this knowledge can come in handy when looking out for them. Some pigeons that live here are more significant than others. 

They are also different colors, depending on where they live and which type they are. People must be careful because some species bite, while others carry disease.

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