One of our new garden residents, a shy band tailed pigeon. Native to the West Coast, but shy and not frequently seen, our new bird feeder has coaxed them down from their hidden perches high in the cedar trees.
A few weeks ago we looked out and could see the crappy little feeder that we had out was swinging wildly. And then we saw why. Two of these rather large birds were trying to get into it but it wasn’t working well as it was a hanging feeder with a cover on it and, although the squirrels were proficient at using it, it was just too small for these visitors.
When we moved to the new place I heard a voice in the trees from time to time that I finally identified as collared doves, though I’ve never seen them as they never seem to come down from their safe spot high in the trees. The voice is soft and tropical, and I recognized ot from travels in Hawaii, Greece, the south of France, and other warm tropical and sub-tropical places. It caught me by surprise the first time I heard it and since then I’ve learned that the collared doves have done well in North America and that there is a growing population in the Lower Mainland.
But these were no collard doves at our feeder. They were clearly much larger and although they looked vaguely like the typical rock pigeon, they were different. I remembered visiting a friend’s home down in a forested part of the Columbia Gorge and having him point out some pigeons at his feeder, he’d told me they were very shy native pigeons. I only saw them from a distance as they flew away.
Pulling out the bird book confirmed that these were the same birds and not any introduced interlopers.
We decided to spend a bit of money and get a decent feeder for our yard, and that brought with the expense a great deal of amusement. First of all, I can’t believe how much money one can spend on a bird feeding setup. Or how much money we spent on one…..to feed pigeons. Secondly…I can’t believe how much fun it was to outwit a band of seven squirrels that were determined to overcome the barriers to their previously unrestricted food source. Thirdly, I can’t believe that we spent even more money to overcome said squirrels.
Band-tailed pigeons are a SARA registered Species of Special Concern. They occur from British Columbia south through the western United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Argentina and were previously a summer visitor on southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. They now breed here and are expanding their range to the north and east, even as their abundance declines. They form nomadic flocks that move in relation to availability of food – and that explains why their number in our yard has increased from two, to three, to four, to five, and yesterday, to six.
Six pigeons can eat a lot! And although the squirrels can no longer get into the feeder itself, the pigeons are no slouches when it comes to flinging seed to the ground to feed the furry scavengers.
But I’m still waiting for the collared doves to show themselves.
- Species Profile: Band-tailed Pigeon
- Management Plan for the Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) in Canada
- COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata in Canada
117 Photos in 2017 – 85. A Bite to Eat