Fun Facts

  • In the early 20th century, Band-tailed Pigeons were nearly exterminated in the U.S. due to overhunting. Under protection, however, this species avoided the same fate as its extinct cousin the Passenger Pigeon and has since recovered.
  • The male's courtship display consists of a slow glide in a flat circle with tail spread, usually performed from a tall tree.
  • In addition to its soft, low-pitched "coo" notes, this pigeon gives an improbable nasal, grating call "raaaaaan."

Bird of the Month

February 2012

Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)


Photo © Tom Clifton

Unlike the ubiquitous Rock Pigeon of urban settings, Band-tailed Pigeons are native inhabitants here on the Central Coast. Flocks of these birds often visit backyard bird feeding stations, their percussive wing-flapping being a clue to their presence. Feathered in shades of purple and dark gray, adults of the species sport an iridescent green nape below a white half-collar as well as yellow feet and bill. (Juveniles are more brownish overall and lack the nape markings.) No need to search long for the feature lending the bird its name: a pale gray band across the lower half of the tail.
Band-tailed Pigeons are common but irregular year-round visitors in Monterey County, responding to fluctuations in acorn and madrone berry crops. They breed most often in mixed oak-conifer woodlands at higher elevations in the Santa Lucia Mountains, but also down to sea level in forested coastal canyons and sometimes on the Monterey Peninsula. During spring and fall migration, flocks may appear anywhere in variable numbers. Nesting begins very early, in December to January, with some even noted in November!