July 19, 2021. My sister found this bird outside near our bird feeders. We’ve never seen one of this coloring or size before, and I’m not sure it’s native to where we live (Northern New Jersey). It has a white plastic tag with numbers on the leg, so I’m thinking it’s either tagged for scientific research or it’s domesticated.

It was resting on the ground instead of sitting in the trees like the other wild birds that frequent our yard. My sister was able to get within 10 feet of it to toss it some bird seed and set out a bowl of water. Any other wild bird around here would’ve flown off if she was within 15 or 20 feet, which makes me think it’s either domesticated, has had contact with humans, or is injured. The bird opened its wings at one point, but didn't fly or flap them at all throughout our interaction with it.

I apologize for the image quality, I couldn't get too close to the bird or it would shy away. In the picture it's sitting down with its legs folded under it. From what I saw, it has a rounded or wedge-shaped tail that fades from white to black at the tip. The body is pure white. The wings are white but with about 3 black stripes across the outer tip. It's shaped like a dove or a pigeon and stands approximately 10 inches at its head. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ What's the size? Is it any different in size from the common pigeon (or rock dove) frequently seen in cities? $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    Jul 19, 2021 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ I believe it was a little bigger than rock doves. I have mourning doves that frequent my bird feeders and this black/white dove was about a third larger than the mourning doves. I'm estimating it was about 8-10 inches tall at its head when standing up and maybe 10 inches from chest to tail tip? I may be off with the measurements, I couldn't get too close to it. $\endgroup$
    – user66753
    Jul 19, 2021 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. Domesticated (and feral) Rock pigeons are highly variable in both size and coloration. They are around 33 cm (~12-14 inches) from beak to tail (which is the standard length measurement for birds), which seems compatible with your estimates. Do an internet image search for "Rock pigeon" to get an idea of how variable these birds can appear. It seems likely this is a "racing pigeon" that's gotten injured or lost. Try using binoculars (or a telephoto camera) to see the band and you might help it get home. $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Jul 19, 2021 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


Possibly some breed of show/fancy pigeon.

For example, see Damascene Pigeons:

enter image description here

Source: YouTube

You can see some discussion/images of black/white pigeons in the pigeon genetics newsletter, and you can see the below image of some additional black/white varieties:

enter image description here



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