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Band-tailed Pigeon


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A backwoods relative of the ubiquitous Rock Pigeon, the Band-tailed Pigeon is common in forests of the Pacific Coast and the Southwest. A sociable bird with a mellow coo, it forms large flocks in mountain forests where it feeds on seeds and fruits. As flocks pass overhead, these large, swift-flying pigeons can resemble Rock Pigeons, so look for the long tail with a wide, pale band at the tip. Up close, a distinctive white neck crescent adorns its pastel gray plumage.


From the top of a tall tree, the male gives a slow series of deep, hooting, almost owl-like coos, each rising slightly in pitch. He also gives mechanical chirping calls. Both males and females give a soft, nasal grunt to keep other individuals from crowding too closely.


When Band-tailed Pigeons take flight their wings sometimes clap together, possibly to signal aggression or to warn fellow pigeons of danger.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Band-tailed Pigeons visit bird feeders to eat seeds, and they are attracted to berry bushes and fruit trees. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Find This Bird

Band-tailed Pigeons can be found in two separate regions in North America: dry mountain forests of the Southwest and wet forests of the Pacific Coast. They’re often way out of sight in tall trees, so keep an eye out for flocks of these large pigeons flying swiftly overhead—their overall pale gray color, combined with dark wingtips and a pale tip to the tail, will help you recognize them. Also watch for chunky birds perched on bare tree limbs; these pigeons routinely sit on conspicuous perches. If you do see one perched, look for the white crescent on its neck and for its black-tipped yellow bill and yellow feet. While walking in the forest you may hear them calling with deep, slow coos.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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