Columba fasciataband-tailed pigeon

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Geographic Range

Columba fasciata, the Band-tailed Pigeon, is a New World bird residing in the western Americas and Canada. It is found as far north as British Columbia, and extends south to Argentina. Its easternmost limit is the Rocky Mountains. (Encarta, 2001)

Habitat

The Band-tailed Pigeon is found in the forests or coastal woodlands of Western British Colombia and America. They perch, nest and feed in coniferous trees such as pines and pinyons as well as oaks. Unlike the common pigeon which can be found in cities around the world, the Band-tailed Pigeon will avoid populated areas and any human contact. (Hogle Zoo, 2001; Readers Digest, 1990; Ehrlich, 1988)

Physical Description

The Band-tailed Pigeon is a medium sized bird weighing up to 340 g (12 oz) and reaching a length of 39 cm (15 in). The head is small, with a linear bill, and broad neck. The bill and feet are yellow with black markings on the tips. The coloration varies from a purplish-grey on the head and upper body, to a brownish slate blue on each side of the breast. Its underside grades from the darker purplish-grey at the top of the breast, to near white at the tail. As its name implies, the Band-tailed Pigeon has a black band across its tail feathers. A thin white band appears on the back of the neck in adults, extending to just behind the eye on each side. In direct sunlight, iridescent greens and purples can be seen on the neck and breast. Feathers are of medium length with broadly arched tips. Females are similar to males, with markings less pronounced. (Audubon, 1995; Encarta, 2001; Readers Digest, 1990)

  • Range mass
    340 (high) g
    11.98 (high) oz
  • Average mass
    340 g
    11.98 oz

Reproduction

The breeding season for Band-tailed Pigeon begins in March and lasts through late spring. During courtship, the male brings food for the female, who beats her wings in a food begging posture similar to the display by nestlings during food delivery to the nest. The female builds a flat, loose nest on the ground, in low brush, or in the fork of lower tree branches. Nesting materials are provided by the male and consist mainly of twigs and pine needles. One, or in rare cases two, eggs are laid per season with both male and female responsible for incubation. Eggs range in color from white to light yellow or bluish, with small white spots at the larger end. Eggs hatch within 18 - 20 days, and chicks fledge 28 - 30 days after hatching. (Hogle Zoo, 2001; Skutch, 1991; Audubon, 1995; Ehrlich, 1988)

  • Average eggs per season
    1
    AnAge
  • Average time to hatching
    19 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons range from a single bird to fifty or more. They perch in the tops of tall trees and are known to preen one another for parasites such as lice, fleas, and ticks. The Band-tailed Pigeon typically moves 32 - 40 km (20 - 26 mi) per day and are capable of flying through rain storms and high winds. Their call is an owl-like whoo-whoo. (Readers Digest, 1990; Hogle Zoo, 2001; Gingras, 1995; Sparks, 1970; Audubon, 1995)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

An omnivore, the Band-tailed Pigeon will eat the nuts, seeds, berries, blossoms (buds of the balsam poplar) and insects found in its coastal woodland and forest habitat. When in season it is also known to eat domestic crops such as cherries, berries, oats, barley and wheat. (Hogle Zoo, 2001; Encarta, 2000; Readers Digest, 1990; Ehrlich, 1988)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Band-tailed Pigeon has been a source of food for humans throughout history. (Gamebird Alliance, 1999; Audubon, 1995)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In addition to their regular diet, the Band-tailed Pigeon will feed on seasonal crops such as cherries, wheat, and barley. However, due to their relatively low numbers, the impact is negligible (Gamebird Alliance, 1999)

Conservation Status

Although hunted to low numbers in the early 1900's, the Band-tailed Pigeon is beginning once again to flourish. Hatching only one egg each season, the Band-tailed Pigeon population can be quickly devastated through over-hunting. With the help of the Federal Migratory Game Bird Act of 1918, and recent changes in hunting limits, the Band-tailed Pigeon should make a full recovery. (Ehrlich, 1988)

Other Comments

"Akoigh homin" is the Native American (Chinook) name for Band-tailed Pigeon. Unlike most birds, but like other pigeons, the Band-tailed Pigeon is able to drink without raising its head.

To maintain homeostasis, pigeons cool off by expelling the layer of skin from the inside of their throats. This thin layer of skin looks similar to a bubble-gum bubble. Once expelled it increases the birds skin surface thus decreasing their body temperature. Pigeons and doves also produce food for their young that is unique from other types of birds. "Pigeon's Milk" is a milky substance produced in the birds crop (food-storage pouch which is the first stage in the birds digestive tract). During the first few weeks of the nestling's life, the parents' crops produce a thick, milky substance made of protein and fat. Gradually, the parents add solid foods, softened by the milk, until their young are ready for solids. (Audubon, 1995; Gingras, 1995; Skutch, 1991)

Contributors

Sabrina Hammon (author), Fresno City College, Carl Johansson (editor), Fresno City College.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

1990. Book of North American Birds. Pleasantville, NY/Montreal: Readers Digest.

"Gamebird Alliance" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2001 at http://www.gamebird-alliance.org/.

"USGS" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2001 at http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov.

"Utah's Hogle Zoo" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2001 at http://www.hoglezoo.org.

Audubon, J. "Birds of America" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2001 at http://employeeweb.myxa.com/rrb/Audubon/VolIV.

Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birders Handbook. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.

Encarta, "Encarta Encyclopedia" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2001 at http://www.encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761569160&cid=7#p7.

Gingras, P. 1995. The Secret Lives of Birds. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books.

National Geographic, 1999. Field Guide to Birds of North America. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Skutch, A. 1991. Life of the Pigeon. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press.

Sparks, J. 1970. Bird Behavior. NY, NY: Grosset & Dunlop.