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Wild band-tailed pigeons in a local backyard. Where did they come from?

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 7:09 am in Band-tailed pigeons, Hunting, Pigeons, Rock dove.

Band-tailed pigeons on backyard feeder. Photo by Herman Koberle, Pleasanton, Calif.

Dear Gary:
We have lived in Pleasanton, in this house, for 28 years and it was 2 months ago that these band-tailed pigeons showed up. We have had bird feeders up for most of that time. Are they new to this area? I have talked to neighbors and people from different areas and no one has seen them or knows where they roost. Any ideas?

We have counted as many as 15 in our backyard.

Band-tailed pigeons on backyard feeder. Photo by Herman Koberle, Pleasanton, Calif.

We now look forward to seeing the pigeons. When we don’t see them for a few days we wonder if they have left the area. The bird feeder is great entertainment!
Herman Koberle, Pleasanton

Dear Herman:
Oh, they’re around, but they aren’t usually seen in local backyards, preferring to do their thing in our beautiful oak woodland areas.

Band-tails are wild pigeons as opposed to the city pigeons (rock doves) that most people are familiar with. They usually have a roost somewhere in a nearby wild open space area, like in the oak trees in an out-of-the-way canyon.

They are a little big bigger than the rock doves we see pecking around city streets. They feed on the ground and in shrubs (and on platform feeders like the one you use). They eat nuts, berries, seeds and acorns.

Band-tailed pigeons are considered to be game birds in California and have a short hunting season in late September or late December, depending on what part of the state you live in.

During band-tail hunting season, your backyard is obviously the safest place for them to be. Maybe they’re practicing for the next hunting season. /Gary

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7 Responses to “Wild band-tailed pigeons in a local backyard. Where did they come from?”

  1. Concerned Citizen Says:

    What’s your address? LOL! I ate a few of these in Italy where they’re served at most restaurants in the Umbria region. Yum, yum!

  2. michael marenghi Says:

    I grew up in santa cruz hunting these birds as a young hunter with my dad.We had nursed some back to health with our domestics back in the 60’s.They would fly to the Hwy 1 coast to seek food,eat acorns and madrone berries in the mountains.They would roost in the high trees.I stopped hunting very young but always admired these birds.We go to Italy quite often I will ask my family.

  3. GREG Says:

    Live in Orinda hills. Have a bird bath on the deck.
    Very shy. But nice to have a round. Any idea what they eat??

  4. Bernard Says:

    We use to hunt band-tailed pigeons in the Frazier Park/Tejon area as well as in the Cleveland National Forest area near Lake Elsinore back in the late 70’s. Back then they were abundant but no longer today. They love feeding on pine nuts and roosting on fir and oak trees and almost always travel in flocks. Consider yourself blessed as they make a stop in your backyard…enjoy them up close as they are a rare sight nowadays.

  5. Carri Says:

    We having quite a few Banded Tail Pigeons visiting our feeder. Today my husband counted 41 (!) at the feeder at once. Rare? Really?
    We’re way out in the boonies in WA, there is no cell phone service here. Neighbors are elk herds and bear.

  6. Steph Says:

    I have these pigeons in my backyard right now, Aptos, Calif. They arrive every year at the end of July to feast on the elderberries. I’m bummed that we severly pruned the tree this year, but I did get to see them searching for it. Oh well next year.

  7. Greg Shea Says:

    We are very happy that we have a live brood of these magnificent birds in our yard near Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island in B.C.
    They migrate in the Fall and returned on Easter Sunday.
    We bought a trough type poultry feeder so they could be more easily fed. Last year we had 14 at most. This year they have been counted at over 40 several times! They are incredible to watch, make a really cool pigeon sound (Coo Coo) and have the strut and head bob of their much smaller city kin. Their collective flapping noise as they take off is truly wonderful! Enjoy them as they were once hunted nearly to the point of extinction.

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