Monday, September 12, 2011

Part Two of Three

Band tail Pigeon (Columbia flavirostris)

Here in part two I’m going to be covering Band Tailed Pigeons. I had a fantastic time photographing Bandtails for two sessions in the blind. I was even lucky enough to capture and image of a banded one. Not bad for "Bandtail Pigeons".Bandtails are extremely nervous and will take flight at the slightest movement. They are extremely cautious and take a long, long time to come down to the feeder. They will tentatively come down one at a time nervously pecking at the grain. But once they feel safe it becomes an all out party with birds tumbling on top of and over one another with a lot of pecking and squabbling. Suddenly something will set them off in an explosive thunderous sound of wings. O.K. I will admit that sometimes I do know what sets them to flight. I may move my hand too quickly while focusing or recomposing or I may move my hand accidentally too close to the blinds camera port.

I guess the main point I’m trying to make here is that these aren’t city pigeons. They may resemble the common everyday rock pigeons of the cities but they are far from it. They are a truly wild pigeon. Bandtails are North Americas largest and only native pigeon.

So what do they look like? Bandtails are soft gray brown like a Rock Dove (introduced), but are more aerodynamic being longer and sleeker. Bandtails backs are gray, with a lighter gray banded tail tip. When landing these tail tips really stand out. The bill and feet really make a statement as they are a bright orange yellow. The eyes are black with a thin, red, fleshy eye ring around the outside of it. Though this can only be seen when you are really close up or with a pair of binos or a spotting scope or in my case a telephoto lens. Adults have a white collar at the nape (back) of the neck with an iridescent green patch underneath it. In the right light it really stands out! The breasts and bellies are washed in a pinkish-mauve. Adult males and females look alike; juveniles are an overall gray. Size wise they are large (as noted before) They are fourteen and a half inches tall with a wingspan of two feet.

Bandtails are found from Northern Britsh Columbia south through the mountains of Southern California. They are found eastward to Colorado, Arizona and Utah and south into Central Mexico. In fall and spring they do migrate though there are some local populations that seem to stay put in some warmer regions along the coast in California. They seem to prefer mountainous, coniferous forested (areas like where I live)

Diet wise I know Bandtails love acorns as I have watched them demolish the acorns off an oak tree. They also eat berries,seeds and grain.

Nesting wise they make a flimsy platform nest of twigs and line it with pine needles. They lay 1 or 2 eggs that hatch out in18 to 20 days. The young fledge in 25 to 27 days.

The good news is that Bandtails aren’t a species of concern though populations are currently on a downward trend.

God’s love and blessings to all,


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