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A photo of a Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)
Band-tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon

Patagioenas fasciata

The band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata, stands as the largest pigeon native to North America. Its plumage is predominantly gray, with a darker shade on the upper body. The adult male exhibits a faint pink hue on the head and underparts, while the belly approaches a near-white coloration. A distinctive feature is the pale terminal half of the tail, which contrasts with the darker base, giving rise to its common name. Adults are graced with a green iridescent sheen on the back of the neck, set off by a slender white collar on the nape. Juveniles display a scaly appearance due to white feather edging above.

Identification Tips

Upon close inspection, one can discern the band-tailed pigeon's yellow bill and feet, which serve as reliable identification markers. The species measures 33 to 40 cm in length, with a wingspan of approximately 66 cm. The coastal subspecies, P. f. monilis, is notably larger than its inland counterparts.

Habitat

This pigeon favors oak, pine-oak, and coniferous forests, thriving from almost sea level up to an elevation of 3,600 meters.

Distribution

The band-tailed pigeon's range extends from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and southern Arizona, through Mexico and Central America, reaching as far as northern Argentina. During autumn, it migrates to areas such as northern California, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

Behaviour

Outside the breeding season, band-tailed pigeons form flocks, sometimes exceeding 50 individuals, and may become nomadic in response to food availability. They are known to congregate at mineral springs, though the reasons for this behavior remain enigmatic. The species has adapted to suburban environments, thanks in part to the introduction of English holly and ivy in landscaping.

Song & Calls

The band-tailed pigeon's vocalizations are low-pitched and reminiscent of an owl, often consisting of two-syllable calls that ascend and then descend in pitch. Additionally, it emits a variety of harsh squawks.

Breeding

A rudimentary platform nest constructed from twigs serves as the breeding site, where one or two eggs are laid.

Similar Species

The band-tailed pigeon is closely related to the Chilean pigeon and the ring-tailed pigeon, which share the characteristic terminal tail band and iridescent neck plumage.

Diet and Feeding

Acorns form a significant part of the diet, supplemented by other seeds, berries, and small fruits. Seasonally, they also consume fruits like Pacific madrona and Toyon berries. The species is a frequent visitor to bird feeders.

Conservation status

The band-tailed pigeon is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN and Apparently Secure by NatureServe, indicating a stable population status.

Band-tailed Pigeon Sounds

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Band-tailed Pigeon Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Band-tailed Pigeon is the largest pigeon species in North America, measuring up to 40 cm long.

Band-tailed Pigeons on Birda

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