|Species: Band-tailed Pigeon
In many ways
reminiscent of it’s more widely distributed relative the Rock Pigeon
(Columba livia), the Band-tailed Pigeon (occasionally called the
Blue Rock) is similar in size and posture, movements, and
reproductive and feeding behaviour. It is equally a generalist, able
to nest and feed in towns and near farms as well as in distant
Band-tailed Pigeons inhabit dry montane forests of 4 states in the
southwestern U.S. (the interior region) south into Middle and South
America, and also the wetter Pacific Coast region, including the
Coast Range and western Cascade Range from the tip of southeastern
Alaska through California into northern Baja.
This pigeon is large and lanky, with relatively long tail; our
33-40cm length. 342-362 g. weight. (Male heavier than female).
Adult Male Head purple-gray(often paler, even whitish, on chin and
throat); hindneck with white crescent subtended by distinct patch of
greenish-bronze iridescent feathers, each sharply edged with dark,
producing squamate (scale like) pattern; remaining upperparts
varying shades of gray to brownish gray (sometimes glossed with
bronze); rump and wing-coverts (edged whitish) slightly paler.
Underparts contrast somewhat paler against upperparts; pinkish buff
to purplish gray on breast, becoming paler (more light purplish
buff) towards belly and whitish on undertail. Besides dark band
across mid-tail, has broad gray band, especially noticeable in
flight, across tip of fan-like tail. Yellow bill with black tip.
Adult males average up to 7% greater mass than adult females.
Female’s duller overall, with narrower white crescent and less
extensive iridescence on hindneck.
All gray and narrow white band on nape absent.
Similar in size and posture to Rock Dove, with which it could be
confused at a distance. Rock Dove relatively shorter tailed and
stockier bodied, less uniformly patterned, usually showing white
rump-patch, dark band at tip of tail, all-dark bill and pinkish
Flight is strong and direct, very swift, like that of a rock dove.
At nesting time, flocks break up into pairs; from a conspicuous
perch in treetop, male frequently utters a deep, mellow, owl-like
‘whoo-whoo-hoo’ or a two-syllabled ‘whoo-uh!
Feeds on the ground and in shrubs, eating nuts, berries, seeds,
waste grain, and especially in the fall and winter, acorns.
Individuals travel long distances daily to feed and are readily
attracted to grain fields and fruit orchards dispersed below the
forested foothills where they live.
Lives in woods and in mountains with tendency to alight in trees;
frequents water holes and salt licks in large flocks
Flocks are fond of perching for long periods of time in tops of tall
Coniferous forests along the northwestern Pacific Coast, but in the
southwester part of its range it prefers oak woodlands or pine-oak
forests where it can feed on acorns.
As with other
pigeons and doves, the Band-tailed Pigeon has a long nesting season
across its range. Adults are presumably monogamous, and most
clutches have only 1 egg. In contrast to long-standing suspicion,
recent research has revealed that some nesting pairs complete up to
3 nest cycles a year. Its song is a series of 2-syllable, low
frequency coos that may be heard up to 300m in closed forest. Its
nest is typical for pigeons, a seemingly haphazard layer of sticks
that look as if they provide little protection to egg or nestling
(squab). Both parents incubate the egg and brood the squab.
Nestlings are fed curdlike crop milk formed from the inside lining
of the crop of both parents. Adults, especially in summer and
particularly in the Pacific Coast region, frequently visit natural
spring and water bodies high in mineral salts, where they rapidly
peck at the soil or drink water intermittently, with long bouts of
roosting in nearby trees.
hunting mortality and longevity up to 22 years suggest that hunting
under present conditions has little effect on population trends over
large areas, but this remains speculative. Breeding Bird Surveys
show numbers decreasing at an average annual rate of 2.8% across its
North American range since 1966.
Band-tailed Pigeons are present in large flocks at Colony
Farms, however remain difficult to capture. Therefore,
capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per
100 net hours) are not reflected in the number of this