The Band Tailed Pigeon of the Pacific Northwest
The range of this beautiful bird is on the west side of the continental divide, from Alaska down to South America. Sadly, this bird once traveled in large flocks, but has now became uncommon in much of its range. But they still thrive on the west coast and on Vancouver Island.
You can see the Band Tailed Pigeon everywhere in Victoria from May until the end of September. They like to roost in Gary oak trees and in the coniferous forests that surround the city where they seek out acorns and berry producing plants and trees.
Band tailed pigeons are dark grey on the wings and back and a lighter grey on the chest and belly, they have bright yellow beaks and feet, a white crescent like marking at the base of the neck and a dark grey band on its tail.
Normally nesting in the coastal mountain forests. The nest is usually built structure of twigs and weeds placed in a tree or shrub, usually near water. The female will lay 1 or 2 eggs. The young, as in all Band Tailed Pigeon, are initially fed pigeon milk. Pigeon’s milk is not really milk at all, but a secretion produced by pigeons to feed their chicks with.
Both the male and the female start to produce it just before the time their chicks hatch. The secretion is also known as crop milk, since it is produced from special cells in the crop, a sac-like distension in the digestive system where birds store food. The parent birds regurgitate the crop milk to their chicks. At first, the chick eats nothing else, and it thrives on the extremely high protein and fat content of the milk. As the chick grows, increasing amount of other crop contents, such as seeds and grass, are added to the feeds. By the time the chick is ready to fledge, parent birds have stopped producing the milk, and the chick receives the normal adult diet.