Although many Bible dictionaries consider a pigeon and a dove to be the same things, I would consider them slightly different. A dove is more of a calm animal. A pigeon is more of a busy bird that goes about seeking food, looking for fallen seeds. Doves do the same, but they seem to me as being less “busy” and more “quiet”. To me that is their principle differences.
In general, a pigeon is more of a pest than anything else. They are not associated with peace and quiet, but with business and activity. They themselves would cause confusion. Doves are a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and in this, they are quiet, peaceful, causing or enjoying rest. Pigeons_ don’t have these traits.
In identifying a dove with the Holy Spirit, it is peaceful, tranguil, and it is easily disturbed by noise, sudden movements and other things that would shock it. A pigeon_ would seem to actually cause these same disturbances. So I would not see the two as being the same thing. The identification would be different for me.
“Pigeon” is used 12 times in the Bible. Gen 15:9; Lev 1:14, 5:7, 11; 12:6, 8; 14:22, 30; 15:14, 29; Num 6:10 and Luke 2:24.
The Bible use for this bird seems to be one of sacrifice, and the preferred animal is a turtledove, but if a person cannot purchase a turtledove (dove), then it is accepted with God that they substitute a pigeon in its place.
This sacrifice was offered when a male child was born in a Jewish family.
Pigeon (see Dove).
Pigeons are mentioned as among the offerings which, by divine appointment, Abram presented unto the Lord (Gen. 15:9). They were afterwards enumerated among the sin-offerings (Lev. 1:14; 12:6), and the law provided that those who could not offer a lamb might offer two young pigeons (5:7; comp. Luke 2:24). (See DOVE)
The well-known bird, often associated with the turtle dove, as being used by the poor in various sacrifices. A pair of these birds were offered when the Lord was presented in the temple. Lu 2:24. Pigeons were so numerous in Palestine that the poor were enabled easily to obtain a pair for any needed sacrifice. Ge 15:9 Le 1:14 5:7,11 12:6,8 14:22,30 15:14,29 Nu 6:10.
The rich provided large and expensive cotes of molded pottery for their birds, each section big enough for the home of one pair of birds, the regular rows of openings resembling lattice work, so that Isaiah refers to them as “windows” (Isa 60:8). Septuagint reads sun nossois, literally, “with young” or “fledglings” (see below). The middle classes modeled cotes of oven-baked clay, and the very poor cut holes in the walls, over the doors, and allowed the birds to enter and live with the family.
In wild estate, rock and wood pigeons swarmed in countless numbers through rocky caves and caverns and over the plains of Gennesaret, the forests of Gilead and the woody slopes of Carmel. They remained throughout the season, breeding at all times. The doves were migratory, and were kept in confinement only as caged pets or to be held for sale for sacrifice. For these purposes, it appears that the dove was slightly preferred. When only one bird was to be used, a dove is always specified; where two, almost in every case the dove is mentioned first. Where one or the other will suffice, the dove seems to have been given preference. This may have been because it required greater effort to procure a dove, and so it was considered a greater sacrifice. Everyone having a home of any sort had pigeons they could use, or they could be taken wild at any time. The dove is first mentioned in Ge 15:9: “And he said unto him, Take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.”
It will be observed that the dove is mentioned first, and it is specified that the pigeon was to be young. It is probable that the people protected their domesticated pigeons by using the wild for sacrifice, whenever possible. Young birds could be taken from a nest at almost any time. The old birds, among the wild, were shy creatures and far more difficult to capture in nets or snares than doves that came close to cities and villages to live, and exhibited much less fear of man than the wild pigeons. The next reference is in Le 5:7: “And if his means suffice not for a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass-offering for that wherein he hath sinned, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, unto Yahweh; one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering.” Here two birds of each kind were to be offered, if the person making the sacrifice could not afford a lamb. Again in Le 12:6: “And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb a year old for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sinoffering, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the priest.” Here is a rare instance where the text or the translators place the pigeon first.
“And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tent of meeting” (Nu 6:10). In So 2:14:
“O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the steep place,
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
Here the text reads “dove,” but the description of the location and the implication of the text prove the bird to have been a rock pigeon–a tender, loving thing, yet shy and timid, that peeps with eyes of bright concern over the rocks of its chosen home, down at the intruder. Isa 60:8: “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” Here is another place where the wrong bird is used. Doves were wild and migratory. They had no “windows.” But the tile pots massed in one diamond-shaped cote appeared at a little distance, like latticed windows. This should read “pigeons” instead of “doves.” For the same reason see Jer 48:28: “O ye inhabitants of Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock; and be like the dove that maketh her nest over the mouth of the abyss.” Again the bird intended is the rock pigeon. Lu 2:24: “A sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” This describes the sacrifice offered in the temple by Mary following the birth of Jesus.
Lev 1:14 (c) This bird represents the Lord JESUS in His sacrificial work. The bird could be had simply by catching it. So CHRIST may be had simply by appropriation. The bird is a small bird in size, and this indicates that some people must have just a small comprehension of the value of the Saviour. Others have a greater comprehension as is pictured by the larger animal, the sheep. Still others have a very large understanding of the value of CHRIST, and this is represented by the large animal, the bullock.
Luk 2:24 (c) This type represents the offering of CHRIST for the pauper. He has no assets and very little understanding of the things of GOD, yet he trusts the Lord JESUS with the faith that he has, though it be very simple.