Bird fans have discovered there is much to admire in this lovely little species. The Band-tailed is just one of several breeds of pigeon that are kept domestically around the globe. Many people are finding Band-tailed Pigeons can make a great addition to the home.
The Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) is native to the Americas. It is found in British Columbia, Canada, and Colorado, Utah and California in the United States, as well as regions in Central and South America. In the wild it generally lives in oak, pine-oak or coniferous forests, and at altitudes ranging from 900 m to 3600 m.
The Band-Tailed Pigeon is similar in appearance to the Rock Pigeon, with dark plumage. It is generally grey in colour, with a white collar on the nape and an iridescent green marking on the back of the neck. The head has a faint pink tinge, and the belly is usually white. The tail is dark grey at the base, with a light grey band across the tip (hence its name). The bill and feet are yellow. In female birds, the green and pink patches are paler than in their male counterparts. Young birds also differ in appearance to adults in that they do not have the green iridescent patch on the neck, and they have white feather edges which can give an almost scaly-like appearance.
The Band-Tailed is one of the larger of the pigeon breeds. It averages 33 to 40cm, and weighs between 250 and 450g.
The Band-Tailed is also one of the quieter pigeons, with a low-pitched voice. It makes a two-syllable call, like a “whoo-whoo”, which resembles the call of an owl.
During its breeding season in the wild, it builds a saucer-shaped nest of loosely intertwined twigs, in which it lays one or two eggs. At other times it will join a flock of up to, and sometimes over, 50 birds. These flocks are nomadic, however they do tend to stick to lower altitudes, and they follow the food, often travelling very long distances in order to do so. Band-tailed pigeons love acorns, but they will also eat seeds, fruit, pine nuts, and even flowers.
The numbers of Band-tailed pigeons globally had been diminishing in the latter half of the twentieth century, but thanks to the introduction of hunting controls in several areas, their numbers are recovering.