Pigeons are magnificent, captivating creatures with different colorations. Let us learn more about them.
Pigeons are of various colors, from black to white, brown, blue, and gray. However, due to selective breeding, we can get unique pigeon colors with different wing patterns. In most cases, pigeons produce melanin, which determines their coloring.
Allow us to take you through some exhaustive details to understand how pigeons get their colors.
How do pigeons get their colors?
Pigeons get their colors through two pigments: melanins and carotenoids. Out of these two pigments, carotenoids are responsible for giving the bird’s feathers their coloring. This pigment can only be produced if the bird eats the required food that produces carotenoids which then circulate through the bloodstream.
Carotenoids are responsible for giving the blue, red, orange, and diverse coloring that is found in the pigeon’s feathers. However, we must add here that pigeons have no control over the production of this pigment. They are usually found in plant-based food which pigeons ingest, thereby leading to their production in the pigeon’s body.
How does melanin determine the pigeon’s color?
Birds make three types of melanin: brown, red, and black. The color of the pigeon is determined by the proportion of melanin produced by its body. For instance, blue pigeons have a higher percentage of black melanin, and brown pigeons have a higher percentage of ash-red or brown melanin.
Types of pigeon colors
Pigeons come in different colors, which are known as color morphs. Here’s a list of the 7 types of color morphs:
|Type of color morph||Characteristic|
|Red-bar||Presence of red bars on the pigeon’s wings|
|Blue-bar||Presence of blue bars on the pigeon’s wings|
|Spread||Pigeons that have black color all over|
|Red||Pigeons with a rusty-red coloration all over|
|Checkered||Pigeons that have a checkerboard-like pattern all over their wings|
|White||Pigeons that are purely white, with no other colors|
|Pied||Pigeons that carry variable colors on different parts of their body|
Pigeon varieties and colors
Different pigeon varieties carry different colors, depending on genetics and their breeding conditions. Let us take you through some of them:
|Black German Nun||White body with colored wings, tail, and head|
|African Owl Pigeon||White, brown, black, blue, etc.|
|Fantail Pigeon||Gray, black, white, brown|
|Frill Back Pigeon||Blue, yellow, gray, black, and white among others|
|Lahore Pigeon||White body with blue, red, black, and brown markings|
|Chinese Owl||Blue, blue-gray, black, brown, pied, barred, white-black, etc.|
|Nicobar Pigeon||Iridescent coloring such as metallic green and blue|
|Jacobin Pigeon||Yellow, blue, silver, black|
|Magpie||Black and white with iridescent blue and green coloring on tail and wings|
|Danish Suabian||Blue, silver, black, red, yellow, etc.|
Why do pigeons have colorful feathers?
Pigeons have colorful feathers due to the pigments that are present in their cell structure. The color varies from purple to blue and iridescent green. However, the color can vary depending on the way light refracts from the bird’s feathers. Similar iridescent lighting can also be found on the pigeon’s neck.
When the light hits the feathers, it refracts and acts like a prism. As a result, you can see multiple colors on the bird’s feathers. This, along with the pigmentation in the cell structure, is responsible for giving the pigeon the iridescent coloring.
Most colorful pigeons
Image Credits: “Victoria Crown — relative of the Dodo, and oh so friendly” by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Pigeons carry beautiful colors due to their cell structure and selective breeding. Let’s take you through some of the most colorful pigeon varieties.
Some of the most colorful pigeon varieties include:
|Pigeon Variety||Color Combination|
|Nicobar Pigeon||Metallic green or blue feathers with hints of copper|
|Victoria Crowned Pigeon||Blue-gray body with splashes of white, maroon, and black|
|Bronzewing Pigeon||Gray body with shades of red, orange, green, and yellow on their wings|
|African Green Pigeon||Gray-green and yellow-green body with patches of yellow, mauve, red, and white|
|Archangel Pigeon||Bronze/Gold body with white, blue, or black wings|
Pigeon breeds are constantly evolving and with new mutations, we can find a range of beautiful, colorful pigeons. Fancy pigeons are often domesticated or serve a commercial purpose, being used for exhibitions. Pigeons are not a threatened species and their population remains stable, as per the IUCN.