- ORDER: Columbiformes
- FAMILY: Columbidae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Paloma Torcaza (Spanish)
- Pigeon à queue barrée (French)
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.
- Cool Facts
- Band-tailed Pigeons have two distinct breeding populations in the United States, one along the West Coast and one in the Southwest. Individuals do move from one region to the other, and sometimes they wander even farther afield. One pigeon banded in Oregon was shot a year later in Florida, well outside the normal range.
- Band-tailed Pigeons often travel far for food, flying an average of 3 miles between nesting and feeding areas, according to one study.
- Like other doves, parents (both fathers and mothers) use a secretion from the esophagus known as crop milk to feed nestlings. Since they do not have to rely on specific food items for their chicks, Band-tailed Pigeons can have a long breeding season with multiple broods.
- Like other doves and pigeons, Band-tailed Pigeons can suck up and swallow water without raising their heads.
- The Band-tailed Pigeon is occasionally called the “blue rock,” because of the blue-gray hue of its back and its resemblance to the closely related Rock Pigeon. The two species are similar in size, posture, movements, and behavior. While the Rock Pigeon is a widespread introduced species, the Band-tailed Pigeon is native to western North America.
- The oldest Band-tailed Pigeon on record was at least 18 years, 6 months old.