[Tweeters]: Band-tailed Pigeon Madrone feast. - re Band tail decline and Madrone decline

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Tue Oct 20 16:35:16 PDT 2009

[Tweeters]: Band-tailed Pigeon Madrona feast. (sorry about the incomplete message)All,

On the subject of Band-tailed Pigeons, I thought it might again be relevant to discuss the subject of their decline as may relate to Madrones - Arbutus menziesii:

I believe this may have been discussed on this forum before, but for years I had wondered what were the most important factors of the decline of Band-tailed Pigeons in recent decades. I had wondered if there might be any problems in continuing to find suitable nesting sites, but have found no evidence or information regarding this.

Someone, possibly on this list, recently suggested that the most critical factor could be the substantial decline of the Madrone trees on whose berries they fattened up in the fall. This made a lot of sense. One other factor relating to this is that large flocks of Starlings can be seen at times decending upon trees with ripe Madrones that then are virtually stripped of berries. Starlings only became established here about 60 years ago. Between the decline of the Madrones and the increased competition for the berries, I imagine the Band-taileds indeed don't fatten up as much in the fall and would have a higher winter mortality.

It is my current thought (no pun intended) to increasingly plant Blue Elderberry - Sambucus cerulea (or now S. nigra ssp. cerulea) shrubs, (which I would strongly prefer come from western Washington genetic stock for planting in western WA), in sandier, sunnier sites to supplement their fall berry supply. Sadly, I have not had very good success in germinating the seeds, which might ideally be run through pigeon guts before planting. Nor have I had much success so far in getting cuttings to root. I expect other native berry bearing shrubs would help too. As some of you know, I would not recommend planting alien berry bearing shrubs, as they come at the cost of the natives they would displace and then at the cost of all of the native species that co-evolved with them and with which they are co-adapted.


Stewart Wechsler
-Ecological Consultant - Nature Guide
Naturalist - Botanist
206 932-7225
ecostewart at quidnunc.net
-Advice on the most site-appropriate native plants to maximize the site's potential for native biodiversity
-Educational programs, nature walks, and field trips for schools, public and private groups
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----- Original Message -----
From: Kevin Mack Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 11:23 PM
Subject: [Tweeters]: Band-tailed Pigeon Madrona feast. (sorry about theincomplete message)

Hi all,

Sorry about the previous, incomplete message. I must have accidentally hit send. Below is how it should have ended :o).

I posted a handful of photos of the feeding activity on Goat Island Images. They are in the New Photos gallery here:

Kevin Mack
Edmonds, WA

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