Forget winged rats – Photographer snaps some of the world’s most unique and vibrant pigeons

This portrait photographer has made it her mission to change people’s perception of pigeons – focusing on some of the most beautiful of the more then 300 species found globally.

Rather than focus on the grey, nondescript birds people usually associate with the term “pigeon,” Leila Jeffereys has instead decided to snap the more vibrant varieties.

Whether it be the wompoo pigeon, with its deep purple breast and green wings, or the rose-crowned fruit dove, with its pink head, Leila, 46, gives the birds the same attention she would photographing a model.

PIC BY LEILA JEFFREYS / CATERS

Working out of her simple studio, the photographer shoots the vibrant and downright interesting variations of pigeon and dove against a solid white background.

The idea for the series, named Ornithurae, came to Sydney-based Leila three years ago, after she witnessed the amazing plumage of a wompoo pigeon firsthand.

Liela felt “pigeons and doves were misunderstood” and she “wanted to tell their story and reveal just how diverse they can be.”

Leila worked predominantly with wildlife rescue birds, as well as heading to Sydney’s famous Taronga Zoo for the more off species subjects.

PIC BY LEILA JEFFREYS / CATERS

Explaining her setup, Leila said: “I try to explain it like a photographer’s studio but bird size.

“There’s a little paper roll, a perch instead of a stool to post on, a little catering – seeds and nuts, some water.

“Then it’s down to staying quiet, gently speaking to them, seeing if they connect with me.

“Letting them lead and I’m there to hopefully capture something special.”

PIC BY LEILA JEFFREYS / CATERS

Photographing her subjects, be it a Luzon bleeding-heart dove or a crested pigeon, requires the kinds of interaction as a photographer would need to undertake with humans, Leila added.

During shoots, she is constantly talking to the birds, looking to get their attention and encouraging them to strike an interesting pose.

The series, which was photographed between 2015 and 2017, is currently on display at the Purdy Hicks Gallery in London, running through August 24.

Leila added: “Pigeons have extraordinary mental and physical powers.

“They can be beautiful and they have had a long history of helping humans deliver messages, saving even lives with their homing capabilities.”