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.


  1. I've currently got a flock of close to one hundred and increasing... I guess I too am going to have to stop feedng ALL the birds because of this 'problem.' The come every morning and wipe out the food, leaving nothing for the grosbeaks, jays, and various finches and sparrows, and any other bird or even the squirrels. It's getting really obnoxious.

    I'm not happy with them.

  2. Interesting comment PCNiles! I live about 25 miles southeast of Portland, and recently noticed a flock of about 20 come by in the mornings. They completely cover both black oil sunflower feeders (and the ground below) and chow down! Wow, wonder if the flock will keep increasing?

  3. You might try disrupting their routine by filling your feeders at noon and leaving only enough food out for the other birds to consume that day. At least, you might try this during the summer.

  4. I live on the Oregon coast, about 13 miles from Coos Bay. I noticed two of the pigeons feeding last year. Today there are about 12 in my back yard eating from the feeders.

  5. We live near Kalama, WA at a elevation of 1,055 feet. Band-Tailed pigeons arrived at our feeders in mid May 2012. We have been counting birds here since late February and reporting our species count to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. We have reported 36 species in our area. The Band-Tailed pigeons are a flock of around 30 birds. They are very shy and will fly from the trees when we open the door to go outside. Our regular smaller birds feed with the Band-Tails at the feeders. We have added two platform feeders away from the house to give the Band-Tails some privacy when feeding. We really enjoy having the Band-Tails visit our property.

  6. DEAR ANONYMOUS NEAR KALAMA, I'm happy you find having the Band-Tails enjoyable. I find their recent presence in force reminiscent of the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". They showed up a few days ago, and have cleaned out our two large platform feeders daily and terrorized all of our usual yard inhabitants except for the Steller's Jay's, and the occasional Wild Turkey. Yesterday there were 27 just in one fir tree; they had been amassing by 4 to 6 every 15 or 20 minutes. I wasn't sure what they were all amassing for, but was starting to get a little paranoid, and wanted to get out my BB pistal,(don't worry, I didn't). We just decided not to fill the platform feeders until the pigeons decided to move on, which I hope is soon so our "regular customers" aren't the ones who get upset and decide to move on. Thanks for listening! Peggy fron Brookings ,Oregon

  7. I have heard a certain cooing at night in the trees at the edge of my pasture.
    It was so loud that it had my border collies completely upset and barking,,it was two AM.
    It sounded like a male bird sounding off and lots of other doves or pigeons cooing right afterwards.
    I wonder if anybody else here has heard such a noise?