What Do Pigeons Symbolize? Unraveling the Meaning Behind These Common Birds

Pigeons have long been regarded as the quintessential city bird, flitting about in large flocks and cooing to their heart’s content. But what do they really symbolize? Are they just scavengers and pests, or do they hold a deeper meaning? It turns out that these birds have been the subject of much fascination and interpretation across various cultures and throughout history.

In many cultures, pigeons have come to represent peace, love, and unity. They are often portrayed as loyal, devoted creatures, with their soft coos and gentle demeanor signaling an underlying sense of harmony. In some traditions, pigeons have even been revered as messengers of the gods, carrying important messages from one realm to the next. But beyond their symbolic significance, pigeons have also played a practical role in human civilization, serving as carriers of messages during war and as a source of food and feather for clothing.

Despite their positive image in many cultures, pigeons have also been associated with negative connotations. In some cities, they are seen as a nuisance, defiling public spaces with their droppings and causing damage to buildings. For others, they are viewed as the ultimate symbol of chaos, a reminder of the unpredictability of life. Despite these mixed interpretations, however, one thing is certain – pigeons continue to hold a prominent place in our collective consciousness, inspiring both fascination and debate among bird lovers, scientists, and everyday folks alike.

Pigeon Symbolism in Different Cultures

Throughout history, pigeons or doves have been revered and regarded as symbols of peace, love, and sometimes war. These birds have appeared in various cultures throughout the world, and their symbolism has evolved over the years. Here are some examples of pigeon symbolism in different cultures:

  • Christianity: In Christianity, pigeons are viewed as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A dove is said to have descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the River Jordan, and since then, doves have been regarded as a symbol of peace and purity. Additionally, in the story of Noah’s Ark, a dove is sent out to find land and returns with an olive branch, which symbolizes peace.
  • Hinduism: In Hinduism, doves or pigeons are associated with the goddess Gira, who is known as the goddess of speech. These birds are believed to carry messages between humans and the divine.
  • Native American: In Native American cultures, doves or pigeons are associated with love, loyalty, and monogamy. The Cherokee refer to doves as “sacred birds” and believe that their cooing is a call for divine intervention.

As you can see, the symbolism of pigeons varies across cultures, but they are often associated with peace, love, and messages from the divine.

Positive Connotations of Pigeons in Literature

Throughout literature, pigeons have often been used as symbols of peace, love, and loyalty. Here are some examples:

  • The Holy Bible: In the Bible, a dove, often considered a type of pigeon, represents the Holy Spirit and is a symbol of peace. The story of Noah’s Ark also features a dove as a symbol of hope.
  • Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare’s tragic play uses pigeons as a symbol of love. The main characters declare their affection for one another with the line “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” They use the metaphor of pigeons to emphasize their devotion to each other, calling themselves “true pigeons” that will always return to one another.
  • The Secret Garden: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel depicts a pigeon as a symbol of loyalty. The character Dickon describes how his mother trained a pigeon to come back to her no matter how far it flew. This symbolizes the strong bond between the mother and the pigeon, as well as the importance of loyalty.

In addition to these examples, pigeons have also been used in various cultures as a symbol of fertility, prosperity, and new beginnings. For instance:

In Hindu mythology, pigeons and doves are associated with the goddess of love, fertility, and devotion, who is often depicted with a pigeon as a companion.

In Chinese culture, pigeons are believed to bring good fortune, and the behavior of pigeons is often used to predict upcoming events.

Pigeon BehaviorPredicted Event
A group of pigeons flying around a personThe person will receive unexpected wealth
A single pigeon flying towards a personGood news is on the way
A pigeon cooing near a person’s homeThe person will have a long and happy life

Overall, pigeons have a rich history in literature and culture as symbols of positive attributes such as peace, love, loyalty, and good fortune.

Negative Connotations of Pigeons in Literature

Pigeons have been a part of human history for thousands of years. However, these birds have not always been viewed positively by society. In literature, pigeons have been symbolized as representatives of various negative concepts such as disease, filth, and death. Here are some of the negative connotations of pigeons in literature:

  • Disease: Pigeons are often depicted as carriers of various diseases in literature. In Charles Dickens’ novel “Bleak House,” the character Jo is described as “dying like a poisoned pigeon in a rookery.” This illustrates how pigeons are seen as harbingers of death and disease.
  • Filth: Pigeons are notorious for leaving droppings everywhere they go. In literature, pigeons are often used as symbols of filth and decay. For example, in William Carlos Williams’ poem “To a Solitary Disciple,” the pigeon is described as “dingy” and “sullied.”
  • Death: Pigeons are also associated with death in literature. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Purloined Letter,” the detective Dupin compares the letter to a pigeon: “It is not more true in the former, that a large body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one, and that its respective momentum increases with its distance from the earth, than in the latter that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and more embarrassed, and full of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress, than the gifted [and] more happily organized natures which take to them in early life, and often become mistaken for them.”


While pigeons may have negative connotations in literature, they are still an important part of our natural world. These birds have been living alongside humans for thousands of years, and have even played important roles in our history and culture. However, it is important to recognize the negative symbolism surrounding pigeons in literature, and how it reflects our attitudes towards these birds.

SubtopicsKey Points
DiseasePigeons are often depicted as carriers of various diseases in literature
FilthPigeons are often used as symbols of filth and decay in literature
DeathPigeons are associated with death in literature

As noted, pigeons have been used to represent various negative ideas in literature. Whether it is disease, filth, or death, these birds have been seen as agents of ill will. However, it is important to remember that these are just symbolic representations, and that pigeons are an important part of our natural world.

Pigeon Superstitions and Beliefs

Pigeons have been present in many cultures throughout history, from ancient times to the present day. They have been the subjects of many beliefs and superstitions over the years. Here are some interesting stories and beliefs surrounding pigeons:

  • In some cultures, pigeons are believed to be messengers of the gods. This originated from their ability to fly high and far, delivering messages across long distances.
  • It is believed that if a pigeon flies into your home, it is a sign of good luck. This is because the pigeon is seen as a messenger of peace and harmony.
  • Pigeons are also believed to bring wealth and prosperity. This belief stems from the idea that pigeons are associated with freedom, and freedom brings wealth and prosperity.

One of the most interesting superstitions surrounding pigeons is the belief that the number 4 is unlucky for them. This belief is particularly strong in parts of Asia, where the number 4 is associated with death. Here’s what you need to know:

In many Asian countries, the word for “four” sounds similar to the word for “death.” This has led to a strong association between the two in many cultures. In fact, many buildings in Asia do not have a fourth floor, and many people avoid using the number 4 in any form of communication.

This superstition has also been extended to pigeons. According to the belief, if you see four pigeons together, it is a bad omen. This is because the number 4 is associated with death, and seeing four pigeons together is said to indicate that someone will die. Some people also believe that if a pigeon lands on your window sill four times, it is a sign of bad luck.

Number of PigeonsSuperstition/Belief
1A sign of peace and harmony
2A sign of love and partnership
3A sign of good fortune
4A sign of bad luck or death

While these superstitions may seem far-fetched to some, they are deeply ingrained in many cultures, and have been passed down through generations. Whether or not you believe in the superstitions surrounding pigeons, there is no denying the cultural significance of these birds.

Pigeons as messengers in history

Throughout history, pigeons have been known as reliable messengers. The ability of pigeons to find their way back home from far away places has made them ideal for delivering messages during times when communication technology was non-existent or unreliable. Here are some examples:

  • Ancient Egypt: Pigeons were used by the Pharaohs to carry messages across their vast empire. The birds wore tiny scrolls attached to their legs, which contained important information for governing the kingdom.
  • Medieval Europe: During the middle ages, pigeons were used to carry messages between castles and to deliver news of important events.
  • World War I: Pigeons were used extensively during the First World War for communication in the trenches. They carried messages across enemy lines, providing valuable intelligence for military leaders.

Pigeons in Art and Literature

Pigeons have also played prominent roles in literature and art. These roles often reflect the birds’ symbolism in society. For example:

  • William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Wild Swans at Coole” features pigeons as symbols of transience and mortality. The birds are described as “rustling these [leaves] in calm/ What could have set them dancing but a hand?”
  • The famous painting “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent features a pigeon in the background. The bird’s presence adds a sense of tension to the painting and implies a lurking danger.
  • In the novel “Pigeon English” by Stephen Kelman, a young boy in London befriends a pigeon and uses the bird as a symbol of hope in a violent and oppressive world.

The Symbolism of Pigeons in Religion and Mythology

Pigeons also have important religious and mythological meanings. These meanings are often linked to the birds’ association with messengers and communication, as well as their tendency to be everywhere at once. Here are a few examples:

  • In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is often represented by a dove or pigeon. This symbolizes the ability of God to communicate with his followers.
  • In Hindu mythology, pigeons are associated with love and fertility. They are often depicted alongside the god of love, Kama.
  • In Greek mythology, pigeons were associated with the goddess Aphrodite, who was said to keep the birds around her as symbols of love and beauty.

Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing is a popular sport in which trained pigeons compete against each other to see who can fly home the fastest. The sport has its roots in the tradition of using pigeons as messengers. Today, pigeon racing is a popular pastime in many countries around the world. Pigeon racing is similar to horse racing, with owners and trainers competing for prize money and prestige. The birds’ incredible homing ability makes pigeon racing a fascinating sport to watch.

CountryNumber of Pigeon Racers
BelgiumOver 20,000
The NetherlandsOver 10,000
ChinaOver 5,000

Pigeon racing is a fascinating sport that combines the natural instincts of these amazing birds with human skill and strategy. The birds’ incredible homing abilities make them ideal for racing, and the sport has a rich history that spans centuries. Whether you are a fan of pigeon racing or simply appreciate the birds for their symbolism and beauty, there is no denying that pigeons have played an important role in human culture for thousands of years.

Pigeons in Religious Symbolism

Throughout history, pigeons have held a special place in religious symbolism. They have been mentioned in religious texts and revered for their ability to bring messages from the divine. Here, we explore the various religious associations that pigeons have:

Number 6: Peace and Harmony

The number 6 is believed to be associated with peace and harmony in several religions. In Christianity, it is said that God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. In Islam, there are 6 articles of faith and 6 pillars of faith.

When it comes to pigeons, this number is of significant importance. Pigeons are known to mate for life and symbolize unity and loyalty. In Christianity, a pair of pigeons is used to symbolize the Holy Spirit and the church. The number 6, in this context, represents the coming together of male and female and the resulting harmony and peace.

Furthermore, in Chinese culture, the number 6 is considered to be lucky and associated with prosperity and quality of life. Pigeons, due to their peaceful nature and loyalty, are often considered to be symbols of good luck and prosperity.

Other Religious Associations

  • In Hinduism, the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is often depicted with a pair of pigeons to represent peace and prosperity.
  • In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, pigeons were associated with the goddess Aphrodite and Venus, respectively. They were believed to be symbols of love and devotion.
  • In Judaism, pigeons were used as sacrifices during religious ceremonies, representing purity and a connection with God.
  • In Islam, pigeons are believed to have been sent by Allah to guide the Prophet Muhammad during his teachings.


Pigeons have played an integral role in religious symbolism for centuries. The number 6, in particular, is associated with peace and harmony, which is exemplified through pigeons’ unique characteristics. Their loyalty and peaceful nature make them perfect symbols of unity and love in various religions and cultures around the world.

ReligionPigeon Symbolism
ChristianityRepresent the Holy Spirit and the church
HinduismSymbolize peace and prosperity
Greek and Roman MythologyAssociated with love and devotion
JudaismRepresent purity and a connection with God
IslamBelieved to have been sent by Allah to guide the Prophet Muhammad

The symbolism of pigeons in religion showcases their importance as messengers and symbols of peace and prosperity. Their presence has continued to permeate various religious and cultural traditions over time.

Pigeons as a Symbol of Peace

For centuries, pigeons have been used as symbols of peace throughout the world. This is largely due to their white feathers, which have come to represent purity and innocence.

One of the most famous examples of pigeons as symbols of peace is the story of Noah’s Ark. According to the story, Noah sent out a dove to search for dry land after the flood. The dove returned with an olive branch, which became a symbol of peace and hope for the future.

  • In Hindu mythology, pigeons are believed to represent love and devotion. They are often associated with the god Krishna, who is said to have 16,000 wives and would communicate with each of them through a different pigeon.
  • In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove, and many churches use doves as symbols of peace.
  • In Japan, the white pigeon is a symbol of peace, and it is believed that if a couple sees a white pigeon on their wedding day, they will have a happy marriage.

Throughout history, pigeons have also been used as messengers of peace. During times of war, pigeons were often used to deliver messages between parties who were trying to negotiate a peace deal. In fact, pigeons were so effective that they were even used during World War I and II to deliver messages from the frontline.

CountryPigeon Symbolism
United StatesFreedom, liberty, and peace
SpainPurity, peace, and good luck
IndiaLove, devotion, and peace
JapanPeace, harmony, and good fortune

Even today, pigeons continue to be associated with peace and harmony. Many cities have pigeon parks where people can come and feed the birds, and pigeon racing is a popular pastime in many parts of the world. So the next time you see a pigeon, remember that it’s not just a bird – it’s a symbol of hope and peace that has been cherished throughout history.

Pigeons as a Symbol of Love and Devotion

In different cultures, pigeons often represent love and devotion. These birds’ habits of pairing for life and building their nests together have earned them this symbolism.

The Number 8

The number 8 is also associated with love and devotion, and it is considered lucky in many cultures. In Chinese numerology, the number 8 represents prosperity and good fortune. Its shape, with no beginning or end, represents infinity and eternity, making it a powerful symbol of everlasting love.

  • In Hinduism, the number 8 represents Lord Ganesha, the god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles. He is invoked before any religious or auspicious ceremony.
  • In the Old Testament, Noah sent out a dove from the ark to find land; it came back holding an olive leaf on the eighth day. This event symbolized the end of God’s judgment and the beginning of natural life again, marking the start of a new era.
  • In the Tarot, the eighth card represents strength, courage, and perseverance, all virtues that are necessary in any long-term relationship.

To some, the number 8 might seem like a simple coincidence. However, to others, it represents the couple’s bond lasting through the ages.

If you’re looking for a powerful symbol of love and devotion, the pigeon and the number 8 might just be what you’re looking for. These symbols have stood the test of time and continue to inspire romantic feelings in people all over the world.

PigeonLove and devotion
Number 8Infinity, eternity, and everlasting love

Combined, these symbols create a powerful message of love and commitment. Their meaning has been passed down through generations, and they continue to inspire romance and devotion in people all around the world.

Pigeons in art and architecture

Pigeons have been a part of various artistic and architectural works throughout history. They have made their mark in different forms, from paintings to sculptures, and were once considered to be a symbol of peace and love. Let’s delve into how pigeons have influenced the world of art and architecture.

  • Pigeons in paintings: Pigeons have been portrayed in numerous paintings, especially in religious settings. The bird is often depicted as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian art. For instance, in Renaissance paintings, such as Raphael’s ‘Madonna dell Granduca’ and Perugino’s ‘Delivery of the Keys,’ pigeons are shown hovering above the characters to signify the work of God.
  • Pigeon sculptures: From ancient Greece to modern-day sculptures, pigeons have been a favorite subject of sculptors. For example, one of the most famous sculptures, the ‘Harrison Gray Otis monument,’ features two pigeons perched atop a globe. The monument was created in honor of Harrison Gray Otis, a politician from Massachusetts.
  • Pigeons in architecture: Pigeons have also made their way into the architectural world in the form of dovecotes. These are small structures built to house pigeons and were commonly seen in old estates and manors. Many dovecotes were designed intricately, with beautiful carvings and paintings. In some cases, even small chapels were built for the birds.

Interestingly, the number 9 plays a crucial role in pigeon symbolism in art and architecture. Pigeons were often kept in groups of nine or multiples of nine in dovecotes, as it was believed to bring good luck and prosperity. Additionally, the number nine is significant in Christian art, as it represents the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Overall, pigeons hold a special place in the world of art and architecture. They have been immortalized in different forms throughout history and continue to be a subject of fascination for many.

Artistic WorkDescription
‘Madonna dell Granduca’Arena Chapel, Padua, Italy. Painted by Raphael in the 16th century, depicting the Madonna holding a young Jesus while a pigeon hovers above them.
‘Harrison Gray Otis monument’A bronze sculpture erected in tribute to Harrison Gray Otis, featuring two pigeons perched atop a globe.
DovecotesSmall structures built to house pigeons, located in old estates and manors. Often intricately designed with beautiful carvings and paintings.

Note: The ‘Delivery of the Keys’ painting by Perugino referenced above also features nine pigeons.

Pigeons in Popular Culture and Media

Pigeons are a common sight in cities around the world, making them a frequent subject in popular culture and media. Here are some notable examples:

  • Animated films: Pigeons have appeared in several popular animated films, including Disney’s “Cinderella,” “Lady and the Tramp,” and “101 Dalmatians.”
  • Music: Pigeons have been featured in songs by artists such as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and LCD Soundsystem. In fact, the music video for LCD Soundsystem’s “Pow Pow” features animated pigeons as the main characters.
  • Books: Pigeons have been featured in numerous books and comics, including “Goodnight Moon,” “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems, and “Pigeon P.I.” by Meg McLaren.

Beyond their appearances in popular culture, pigeons have also been depicted in the media in various ways:

In recent years, pigeons have often been used as symbols of urban life and the cityscape, appearing in advertisements for everything from coffee to luxury apartments. However, pigeons have also been the subject of controversy, with some cities taking measures to reduce their population due to concerns about their impact on public health or property damage.

In 2020, a photograph of a pigeon wearing a tiny sombrero went viral on social media, prompting widespread debate over animal cruelty and the ethics of using animals for human entertainment. The pigeon, known as ‘Bebito,’ was captured and given to a bird rescue organization, where it was found to be healthy and later released into the wild.

The New York Times“Inside the Private World of New York’s Pigeon Fanciers”An in-depth look at the fascinating culture of pigeon racing in New York City and the dedicated enthusiasts who participate.
The Guardian“The Rise of the ‘Pigeon Bloggers'”A profile of pigeon enthusiasts who share photos and stories of their feathered friends on social media.
National Geographic“How Pigeons Went From Feral Pest to Urban Icon”An exploration of the history of pigeons in cities, and the ways in which they have become an integral part of urban life.

Overall, pigeons have played a diverse and nuanced role in popular culture and media, representing everything from urban grit to endearing companionship.

What Do Pigeons Symbolize FAQs

1. What is the spiritual meaning of pigeons?
Pigeons are often considered a symbol of peace, love, and harmony. They represent the divine spirit and are believed to carry messages from the spiritual realm.

2. What is the significance of pigeons in mythology?
In Greek mythology, pigeons were associated with the goddess Aphrodite, who was often depicted with them. In Hindu mythology, pigeons are believed to be the messengers of Lord Vishnu.

3. What do pigeons symbolize in Christianity?
In Christianity, pigeons represent the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. They are also associated with peace and purity.

4. What do pigeons symbolize in art?
In art, pigeons are often depicted as a symbol of innocence, love, and hope. They are also used to represent the concept of freedom and flight.

5. What is the cultural significance of pigeons?
Pigeons have been an important part of human culture for thousands of years. They have been used as messengers, pets, and even as food in some cultures.

6. What do pigeons symbolize in literature?
In literature, pigeons are often used as a symbol of freedom and escape. They are also used to represent peace and love.

7. Why are pigeons often associated with cities?
Pigeons are often found in urban areas because they are attracted to the abundant food sources and the warmth of buildings. They have become a common sight in cities around the world.

A Symbol of Peace and Freedom

Pigeons have been a significant symbol in many cultures, religions, and art forms throughout history. They represent peace, love, and harmony, and are believed to bring spiritual messages from the divine realm. Pigeons also symbolize freedom and flight, reminding us to spread our wings and explore the world around us. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about what pigeons symbolize. We hope you visit again soon!