[Tweeters] Band-tailed Pigeon decline reasons

BobnBernie BobnBernie at comcast.net
Sat Sep 29 14:49:13 PDT 2007

What we are reporting will not answer your questions about Band-tailed nesting requirements. It does, we hope, give you some hope for nesting success.

We live 25 miles ESE of Seattle between Renton and Issaquah. The area has some dense housing, open fields with livestock and some still heavily wooded. It is a couple of miles from Cougar Mt with it's park and other wooded areas.

We have fed birds for 20+ years and have a large variety which come to the feeders including Band-tailed. The first few years we would see 3-4. Now we have a much larger group which is hard to gauge the number because they stage in various places and continuously flying in and out. The feeding area is not large and on a building lot between 2 houses. The feeder is 12 feet from a glass slider which allows the birds to see any of our movements in a much used area of the house.

We mention this because we feel the Band-tailed are some of the most likely to fly from movement as any birds. This makes it hard to observe because we can only count the birds that we can see from a given spot in the house. The viewing area is a 6-8 foot strip on the ground, the feeder and 10 feet of fence behind. We typically see 20-30 at a time.

We have raccoons coming to the feeder area as was part of your concern and are prevalent in the area.

We know our observations are far from scientific but we think it shows, at least in our area, they are having some breeding success. As best we can determine, about 50% of recent birds have been this year's hatchlings with no white stripe on the nape.

Sibley states that the juvenile's lack of nape stripe is evident Jun-Nov. If others, who see Band-tailed in the next month or so, would look for this and report what they find, we might get a better idea as to whether they do or do not have a nesting problem.

Bob & Bernie Meyer
Mailto:BobnBernie at comcast.net
----- Original Message -----
From: Stewart Wechsler
To: Michael L Casazza ; tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2007 7:11 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Band-tailed Pigeon decline reasons

I had long been wondering what the factors were for the decline of Band-tailed Pigeon populations over recent decades. I've been particularly interested in their ideal nesting requirements, as I expect this would be a more important question than food for example supply. I visited a friend the other day who had Band-taileds that had nested behind their house. I asked her to show me where and it was high in a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata). I looked for the droppings to indicate where the birds had been nesting or perching above and instead found Racoon droppings (with cherry pits in them). According to my friend the racoon had apparently taken apart an Eastern Gray Squirrel nest and likely eaten the young. She showed me the torn up squirrel nest. I expect the racoon was also likely to have eaten any Band-tailed eggs or chicks it would have found in the Red Cedar. (I also expect the introduced and Eastern Gray Squirrel that we also feed is also likely to have eaten any eggs or young chicks it might have found). I've seen Racoons using conifers, including red cedars as day-time resting areas.

I now theorize that the increase in racoons that humans have induced by providing them food and shelter as well as the introduction and feeding of Eastern Gray Squirrels may be factors in nest failure for Band-taileds. I'll be interested in more thoughts.

Stewart Wechsler
Ecological Consulting
West Seattle
206 932-7225
ecostewart at quidnunc.net

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