A Dove and a Pigeon are the same – Kalapati in the Philippines

pigeon pigeons I’ve lived in the Philippines for nearly a decade.

Until today, I never questioned the use of the Tagalog word kalapati for a dove or a pigeon.

Well, I looked up dove at Wikipedia and I was redirected to Columbidae, the bird family that both doves and pigeons belong to.

The history of these birds is interesting.

A Dove is a Pigeon

People call the pure white pigeon a dove, but it’s still a pigeon. They treat a dove differently and it has a lot to do with symbolism. People have been brainwashed to believe pigeons are dirty birds and that they can transmit diseases to humans. When I say people, I include myself. It’s all propaganda put out by pest control companies in their searches for profits.

The truth is that pigeons are no dirtier or disease-ridden than any other bird. Like all birds, they poop wherever they happen to be when they do need to do it. Chickens seem to be nastier in that respect, perhaps because they spend more time on the ground. Pest control companies have created all kinds of things to keep pigeons away, including pigeon spikes. It bothers many people to have them around, leaving poop on rooftops.

Pigeon Flocks

In big cities in the United States, you can spot large flocks of pigeons in various places, along the sides of buildings with overhangs and such. Like other birds, they hang out where they can be close to food supplies, whatever that food happens to be. I saw the same thing with gulls when I was going through Marine Corps basic training in San Diego, California. Those birds would hang out near the food disposal containers. Like pigeons, they’re were largely ignored until they started pooping on people.

Pigeons are source of food. Yes, you can eat them. Their meat is tough, just like an old turkey. The people who eat them regularly try to eat them when they’re young, when they’re called “squabs”. The meat isn’t tough until they’re adult birds.


The Tagalog word for every kind of dove or pigeon is kalapati (in Cebuano, it’s salampati). Speaking of Cebuano, it’s more closely to the Spanish language. You’d have to understand the history of the Philippines and the places where Spanish people were more concentrated to appreciate the differences.

I haven’t seen a flock of pigeons anywhere since I’ve lived in the Philippines. I rarely see a single pigeon and when I do, someone’s holding it. Unlike people in the United States, people in the Philippines aren’t afraid of eating pigeons like they’re not afraid of eating chickens.

Pigeons and other Birds

Why is it that people think certain birds are cute and clean and nice to have, while other birds are considered ugly and dirty and undesirable? It’s all about perceptions colored by history and pest control companies over many decades. You would think nothing of hand-feeding a hummingbird, but you would avoid doing the same thing with a pigeon. Don’t feel bad because I used to be the same way.

There isn’t a good reason to treat a pigeon any different from any other type of bird. A white pigeon, or dove, shouldn’t get special treatment just because of the symbolism surrounding it.

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