Early work on hybrid pigeons and doves was mainly experimental (Staples-Browne, 1912; Staples-Browne, 1923; Strong, 1912; Whitman & Riddle, 1919), focusing on specific aspects such as behaviour (Davies, 1970), morphology (Davies, 1967), and fertility (Guyer, 1900; Yamashina, 1941). The old data were recently re-analysed (Lijtmaer, Mahler & Tubaro, 2003).



The genomic region determining the patterns of wing pigmentation in domestic pigeon (Columba livia) has introgressed from the Speckled Pigeon (C. guinea) after the domestication of pigeons about 5000 years ago (Vickrey et al., 2018). Hybrids between these two species – that diverged about 5 million years ago – have been reported, although females can be infertile (Irwin et al., 1936; Miller, 1953; Taibel, 1949).



The hybrid zone between Vinaceous Dove (Streptopelia vinacea) and Ring-necked Dove (S. capicola) in Uganda has received particular attention (den Hartog, den Boer-Visser & ten Cate, 2010). The majority of research on these species looked at the vocal characteristics of both species and their hybrids (de Kort, den Hartog & ten Cate, 2002a) and reactions to heterospecific and conspecific calls (de Kort, den Hartog & ten Cate, 2002b; den Hartog, de Kort & ten Cate, 2007; den Hartog, Slabbekoorn & ten Cate, 2008).


Streptopelia vinacea and S. capicola

Streptopelia vinacea and S. capicola



Davies, S. (1967). Measurements of some Streptopelia doves and their hybrids. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 87.

Davies, S. (1970). Patterns of inheritance in the bowing display and associated behaviour of some hybrid Streptopelia doves. Behaviour 36, 187-&.

de Kort, S. R., den Hartog, P. M. & ten Cate, C. (2002a). Diverge or merge? The effect of sympatric occurrence on the territorial vocalizations of the vinaceous dove Streptopelia vinacea and the ring-necked dove S. capicola. Journal of Avian Biology 33, 150-158.

de Kort, S. R., den Hartog, P. M. & ten Cate, C. (2002b). Vocal signals, isolation and hybridization in the vinaceous dove (Streptopelia vinacea) and the ring-necked dove (S-capicola). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 51, 378-385.

den Hartog, P. M., de Kort, S. R. & ten Cate, C. (2007). Hybrid vocalizations are effective within, but not outside, an avian hybrid zone. Behavioral Ecology 18, 608-614.

den Hartog, P. M., den Boer-Visser, A. M. & ten Cate, C. (2010). Unidirectional Hybridization and Introgression in an Avian Contact Zone: Evidence from Genetic Markers, Morphology, and Comparisons with Laboratory-Raised F1 Hybrids. Auk 127, 605-616.

den Hartog, P. M., Slabbekoorn, H. & ten Cate, C. (2008). Male territorial vocalizations and responses are decoupled in an avian hybrid zone. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 363, 2879-2889.

Guyer, M. (1900). Spermatogenesis in hybrid pigeons. Science 11, 312.

Irwin, M.R., Cole, L.J. & Gordon, C.D. (1936) Immunogenetic studies of species and of species hybrids in pigeons, and the separation of species‐specific characters in backcross generations. Journal of Experimental Zoology 73, 285-308.

Lijtmaer, D. A., Mahler, B. & Tubaro, P. L. (2003). Hybridization and postzygotic isolation patterns in pigeons and doves. Evolution 57, 1411-1418.

Miller, W.J. (1953) The Time of Appearance of Species-Specific Antigens of Columba guinea in the Embryos of Backcross Hybrids. Physiological Zoology 26, 124-131.

Staples-Browne, R. (1912). Second report on the inheritance of colour in pigeons, together with an account of some experiments on the crossing of certain races of Doves, with special reference to sex-limited inheritance. Journal of Genetics 2, 131-162.

Staples-Browne, R. (1923). On the crossing of some species of Columbidae, and the inheritance of certain characters in their hybrid offspring. Journal of Genetics 13, 153-166.

Strong, R. M. (1912). Results of hybridizing ring-doves, including sex-linked inheritance. Biological Bulletin 23, 293-320.

Taibel, A.M. (1949) Nuovi risultati d’incrocio diretto e reciproco fra Columba livia Domestica e Columba guinea. Archivo Zoologico Italiano 34, 431-476.

Vickrey, A.I., Bruders, R., Kronenberg, Z., Mackey, E., Bohlender, R.J., Maclary, E.T., Maynez, R., Osborne, E.J., Johnson, K.P., Huff, C.D., Yandell, M. & Shapiro, M.D. (2018) Introgression of regulatory alleles and a missense coding mutation drive plumage pattern diversity in the rock pigeon. eLife 7, e34803. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.34803

Whitman, C. O. & Riddle, O. (1919). Posthumous Works of Charles Otis Whitman.: Inheritance, Fertility, and the Dominance of Sex and Color in Hybrids of Wild Species of Pigeons. Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Yamashina, Y. (1941). Studies on sterility in hybrid birds. II. Histological studies of the reproductive organs in species hybrid of the family Columbidae. Jap. Jour. Genet 17, 1-12.

3 thoughts on “Columbiformes

  1. There are apparently ringneck dove x domestic pigeon hybrids. You also might want to clarify that the Guinea pigeon contributed the “checker” pattern to domestic populations.

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