[Tweeters] Band-tailed pigeons - planting Blue Elderberry for them

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Wed Mar 28 23:13:36 PDT 2007

Blue Elderberry - Sambucus cerulea a.k.a. S. nigra ssp. cerulea typically
grows in sandier soils to the south of Seattle and east of the Cascades.
Distribution is relatively spotty to the north of Seattle, but it should
grow well on Lummi Is. in a sunny, better drained site.  It may be with
global warming that it will increasingly appear further north.  I've
recently learned that they may be heavilly preyed upon by non-native slugs.
This may in part account for its reputation for being difficult to grow from
seed and may in part account for my seeing very few small plants in the
relatively few areas west of the cascades where Blue Elderberry occurs.
East of the cascades there are not so many slugs.


  -----Original Message-----
  From: monte merrick [mailto:montemerrick at speakeasy.net]
  Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:53 PM
  To: Stewart Wechsler
  Cc: tweeters at u.washington.edu; Josh Hayes
  Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Band-tailed pigeons - affected at all by Rock

  thats pretty interesting, about the blue elderberries - i'm only mildly
familiar with the native plants(except the big ticket items like the
trailing blackberries and those maples with leaves the size of dinner
plates) here at my house there was a flock of band-tailed pigeons (16)
hanging around for the first week of spring - they really stuckto the big
trees it seemed to me -

  is blue elderberrry likely to grow on the san juan or gulf islands? - here
on lummi there's an awful lot of red elderberry, and on the north end there
is very little habitat that hasnt been substantially altered, even though it
is mostly woods - but a lot of stumps in the woods of course, and there are
some big trees, but a lot of cleared fields, and strange overgrown areas
with old truck parts and miscellaneous junk in tangles of young dougfir and
alders and himalayan blackberries. i'd be thrilled to do what i can here to
encourage native birds -

  monte merrick
  lummi island washington
  montemerrick at speakeasy.net
  On 28 Mar 2007, , at 22:37, Stewart Wechsler wrote:

    Your point is well taken that the habitat of the Band-tailed and the
Rock Pigeon do not overlap a lot.  This would indeed reduce the degree to
which Rock Pigeons would spread diseases and parasites to Band-taileds.
That said, as they are related species there are likely to be a number of
pathogenic organisms that Rock Pigeons support that would infect
Band-taileds if the Band-taileds come into contact with the
pathogenic/parasitic organisms.  With such large numbers of Rock Pigeons in
the urban and substantial numbers in farm areas, I would assume that they
may indeed support a large population of parasites and disease organisms.  I
would then think it is not a question of whether Band-taileds are affected
by Rock Pigeon borne pathogens, but how often and whether it is negligible
or significant.  I am not suggesting that the Rock Pigeons are taking
habitat away from Band-taileds.

    My greater interest is to seek and analyze any potential limiting
factors to Band-tail populations and figure out which are the significant
ones and what we might do to protect and enhance Band-tailed habitat and
help turn the declining trend around.  To that end I am currently
propagating and planting Blue Elderberry shrubs in habitats where both Blue
Elderberries would do well and where Band-tailed Pigeons occur.  How much
one more food source would help the population, I don't know.  It may be
that other factors than food availability are limiting the population and
additional food sources may not help slow their decline or help bring them


     -----Original Message-----

    From: monte merrick

      well stewart i cant think of anything except trichomoniasis that rock
pigeons, specifically, carry - and since band tailed pigeons and rock
pigeons dont really use the same habitat, and where they do, the rural rock
pigeon is much less likely to carry trich, which spreads among crowded

      unlike the european house sparrow, and the european starling, the rock
pigeon doesn't exactly take over habitat of native birds - more like they
adapt well in disturbed areas - such as cities - in fact, if you really want
to get a fight going suggest to the anti non-native crowd that the rock
pigeon is native to cities (show me one without them)

      the band-tailed pigeon is a forest bird - certainly we can look around
and see that the threat to them, although great and probably insurmountable,
isnt the already much maligned rock pigeon.

      take care

      monte merrick
      lummi island washington
      montemerrick at speakeasy.net
      On 28 Mar 2007, , at 21:19, Stewart Wechsler wrote:
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