Band Tailed Pigeon

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Band Tailed Pigeons can be found 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 become 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.

These 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 a 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 pigeons, 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.

Band-Tailed Pigeons, Vancouver Island, BC
Band-Tailed Pigeons, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

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, an 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.

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