Pigeons and doves are much more diverse than the park-variety bird that feeds on peanuts from passersby. There are dozens of types of pigeons, each with their own attributes. Pigeons and doves are members of the bird order Columbiformes and family known as Columbidae and have 42 genera and 308 species. They are commonly known by breed and are classified by hobbyists by use such as sporting, colour, owl, squabbling and voice.
Carrier pigeons, descendants of the homing, message-carrying pigeons of former Persia, have been known to Europe since the 1600s. The fantail is a carrier pigeon that has a tail shape much like a male turkey's. Originally from India, fantails been bred in Scotland and England and now are commonly bred in the United States as well. Another common homing pigeon breed is the Damascenes/Mahomets, said to be from the Middle East. Its exact country of origin is in dispute.
Pigeons Bred for Voice
Trumpeter pigeons, originally from Central Asia, are known for their voices. Mourning doves and Indian Ringneck Doves are also known for their musical voices and can be found in most states in the wild. The difference between pigeons and doves is size. Pigeons tend to be stocky birds while doves are smaller, although the names are sometimes used interchangeably.
Pigeons Bred for Color and Interesting Plumage
Old German Owl pigeons are popular in the United States where hobbyists are setting a standard for the breed. They are known to be friendly. The Archangel is a pretty, petite pigeon from Germany. The Jacobin has unruly head feathers. Originally bred in India, the Jacobin became a bird of the European aristocracy. The Frill Back has curly feathers that makes this bird look like a poodle. The Helmet Crested, Indian Fantail and Chinese Owl all have plumage that set them apart and make their appearance distinct.
Sporting Pigeon Breeds
Some of the breeds of sporting and racing pigeons overlap with those bred for voice and colour. Sporting activities include racing and homing where birds are let loose miles away from home and are timed in their arrival back at their home base. The breeds commonly used for racing or homing contests include Roller pigeons, Fancy pigeons and Fantail pigeons.