Monday, April 19, 2010

Band-tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed PigeonBand-tailed Pigeon visiting a favored mineral spring at Hagg Lake, Oregon on 3 May 2009 by Greg Gillson.


The large Band-tailed Pigeon can be found nearly anywhere in the Pacific Northwest (for instance, stragglers have occurred throughout Idaho). However, this handsome bird breeds in mature conifer forests primarily west of the Cascades and Sierra-Nevada Mountains from western British Columbia south through California. It forages in more open oak and pine-oak woodlands throughout its range.

Another population breeds from Utah and Colorado south to western Texas, Arizona, and through the mountains of western Mexico. Additional populations breed southward into South America.

There are some birds that spend the winter visiting feeders in wooded neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon, and more do so in the oak woodlands of SW Oregon and northern California. But the majority of breeding birds withdraw from the Pacific NW to winter in central California and southward as far as northern Baja.

In March, the first returning flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons arrive in the Pacific NW. They are most common in the Coast Range. But they are not evenly distributed. They concentrate near a mineral site where they can obtain sodium and potasium for their diets. Obviously, they can obtain sodium from salt near the Pacific coast. Another main source of minerals come from mineral springs. Birds may travel over 30 miles from their nest to get minerals (Birds of Oregon: A General Reference, 2003).

They eat buds, flowers, and fruit of oaks, elderberries, cascara, madrone, and huckleberries. You may feed them cracked corn to attract them to your feeders. However, some people stop feeding birds in early summer as large flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons come in and wipe out the feeding station quickly.

Their cooing is very deep and owl-like: oo-hoo.