For many people, pigeons are a pretty common sight. They’re synonymous with the gray birds you’ll find flocks of in New York City, often dubbed “rats with wings” and dreaded for their white droppings.
But recently, people online discovered that there is a very different type of pigeon in the world, with a far more exotic color palette.
Meet the pink-necked green-pigeon, dubbed by the internet the “rainbow pigeon” or “hot pigeon.”
It’s hard to believe that’s the same species as the familiar gray birds we pass on the way to work. With a distinctive, colorful plumage, this pigeon would definitely catch the eyes of bird watchers.
The bird went viral on Twitter recently, after a disbelieving user shared photos of the bird in March:
“Have you ever seen such a beautiful pigeon?” the original poster wrote. And the answer, for many people, was no.
The photos are so far off from our idea of a pigeon that people couldn’t believe it was actually real (one user wondered if it was another “seagull covered in curry” situation), but the pink-necked green-pigeon is very real, no Photoshop required.
Sadly, you likely won’t find this colorful breed on the streets of your city (or leaving a present on your car.) They are native to Southeast Asia, found in Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
They live off fruit and figs, and help to spread fruit seeds in their environment.
As Twitter users buzzed about their new discovery, bird enthusiasts began to chime in with other uniquely beautiful varieties of pigeon/dove family.
A user named “Bird Michael” gave a shout-out to another colorful cousin from his native Australia: the rose-crowned fruit-dove.
Rosemary Mosco, who is writing a book on pigeons, was asked by followers to chime in on the story, and after providing some insight about the pink-necked green-pigeon, highlighted some other colorful species.
And, while it’s tempting to put down the common gray pigeons (which are known as domestic pigeons or “rock pigeons”) she points out that they, if you look close enough, have a pretty color pattern of their own.
“They have their own rainbow,” Rosemary wrote. “They can be red, brown, grey, white, black,” as a result of them being descended from domesticated pets.