Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata LC

The band-tailed pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) is a medium-sized bird of the Americas. Its closest relatives are the Chilean pigeon, passenger pigeon and the ring-tailed pigeon, which form a clade of Patagioenas with a terminal tail band and iridescent plumage on their necks. Some authorities split this species into the northern band-tailed pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) and the southern band-tailed pigeon (Patagioenas albilinea). [1]

Banded Tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata

It ranges from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and southern Arizona south in higher elevations through Mexico and Central America to northern Argentina. In autumn it migrates out of its permanent resident range into northern California, New Mexico, and parts of Utah and Colorado. Populations from Costa Rica south are sometimes considered a separate species, the white-naped pigeon (P. albilinea). It is found at altitudes from 900 to 3,600 m (3,000 to 12,000 ft), generally in oak, pine-oak, and coniferous forests. It feeds on seeds, notably acorns. [1]

It is the biggest pigeon in North America, measuring 33 to 40 cm (13 to 16 in) long and weighing 225–515 g (7.9–18.2 oz). The coastal subspecies P. f. monilis (averaging 392 g (13.8 oz)) is larger than the inland subspecies (averaging 340 g (12 oz)).[7] The plumage is gray, somewhat darker above. The head and underparts have a faint pink cast, especially in the adult male; the belly is nearly white. The distal half of the tail is also pale (except in the subspecies of Baja California), whence the English name. The bill and feet are yellow, good identification marks at sufficiently close range. Adults have green iridescence on the back of the neck, adjacent to a thin white collar on the nape. Juvenile birds have white feather edges above, giving a scaly appearance. [1]

White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica LC

The white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) is a dove whose native range extends from the south-western United States through Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In recent years with increasing urbanization and backyard feeding, it has expanded throughout Texas, into Oklahoma, Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. It has also been introduced to Florida. [2]

White-Winged Dove

White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica

The white-winged dove is expanding outside of its historic range into Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and northern New Mexico. The dove's range has even expanded drastically northward into Canada. While the dove was introduced to Alberta, it still remains a common spring and summer visitor in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.[2]

White-winged doves are large, plump doves at 29 cm (11 in). They are brownish-gray above and gray below, with a bold white wing patch that appears as a brilliant white crescent in flight and is also visible at rest. Adults have a patch of blue, featherless skin around each eye and a long, dark mark on the lower face. Their eyes are bright crimson. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are more brown than adults. They have a blue eye ring and their legs and feet are brighter pink/red. Young also have brown eyes. Males have a slight iridescent sheen on their heads. [2]

The cooing calls is hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo. A drawn-out "hoo-a" sound is used to tell others about the presence of a predator. To impress females, males circle them with tail spread and wings raised. Males and females work together in raising the young. While calling, the tail flares. Families and nestmates often stay together for life, perching and foraging together. [2]

Some populations of white-winged doves are migratory, wintering in Mexico and Central America. They are year round inhabitants in Texas. San Antonio, Texas, had a year round population of over a million doves in 2001. The white-winged dove inhabits scrub, woodlands, desert, urban, and cultivated areas. It builds a flimsy stick nest in a tree of any kind and lays two cream-colored to white, unmarked eggs. One chick often hatches earlier and stronger, and so will demand the most food from the parents. A dove may nest as soon as 2–3 months after leaving the nest, making use of summer heat. The dove will nest as long as there is food and enough warmth to keep fledglings warm. In Texas, they nest well into late August. [2]

White-winged doves feed on a variety of seeds, grains, and fruits. Western white-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica mearnsii) migrate into the Sonoran Desert to breed during the hottest time of the year because they feed on pollen and nectar, and later on the fruits and seeds of the saguaro cactus. They also visit feeders, eating the food dropped on the ground. Cracked corn is a favorite of doves. This gregarious species can be an agricultural pest, descending on grain crops in large flocks. It is also a popular gamebird in areas of high population. [2]

Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura LC

The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family, Columbidae. The bird is also known as the turtle dove, American mourning dove or the rain dove, and was once known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina Turtledove.[2] It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also a leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure is due to its prolific breeding; in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods of two young each in a single year. The wings make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing, a form of sonation. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).[3]

Mourning doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents. [3]

Mourning Dove

Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura

The mourning dove has a large range of nearly 11,000,000 km2 (4,200,000 sq mi). The species is resident throughout the Greater Antilles, most of Mexico, the Continental United States, southern Canada, and the Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda. Much of the Canadian prairie sees these birds in summer only, and southern Central America sees them in winter only. The species is a vagrant in northern Canada, Alaska, and South America. It has been spotted as an accidental at least seven times in the Western Palearctic with records from the British Isles,  the Azores, and Iceland  In 1963, the mourning dove was introduced to Hawaii, and in 1998 there was still a small population in North Kona. The mourning dove also appeared on Socorro Island, off the western coast of Mexico, in 1988, sixteen years after the Socorro dove was extirpated from that island.[3]

The mourning dove is a medium-sized, slender dove approximately 31 cm (12 in) in length. Mourning doves weigh 112–170 g (4.0–6.0 oz), usually closer to 128 g (4.5 oz). The elliptical wings are broad, and the head is rounded. Its tail is long and tapered ("macroura" comes from the Greek words for "large" and "tail"). Mourning doves have perching feet, with three toes forward and one reversed. The legs are short and reddish colored. The beak is short and dark, usually a brown-black hue. [3]

The plumage is generally light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spotting, and the outer tail feathers are white, contrasting with the black inners. Below the eye is a distinctive crescent-shaped area of dark feathers. The eyes are dark, with light skin surrounding them. The adult male has bright purple-pink patches on the neck sides, with light pink coloring reaching the breast. The crown of the adult male is a distinctly bluish-grey color. Females are similar in appearance, but with more brown coloring overall and a little smaller than the male. The iridescent feather patches on the neck above the shoulders are nearly absent, but can be quite vivid on males. Juvenile birds have a scaly appearance, and are generally darker.[3]

All five subspecies of the mourning dove look similar and are not easily distinguishable. The nominate subspecies possesses shorter wings, and is darker and more buff-colored than the "average" mourning dove. Z. m. carolinensis has longer wings and toes, a shorter beak, and is darker in color. The western subspecies has longer wings, a longer beak, shorter toes, and is more muted and lighter in color. The Panama mourning dove has shorter wings and legs, a longer beak, and is grayer in color. The Clarion Island subspecies possesses larger feet, a larger beak, and is darker brown in color. [3]

The mourning dove occupies a wide variety of open and semi-open habitats, such as urban areas, farms, prairie, grassland, and lightly wooded areas. It avoids swamps and thick forest. The species has adapted well to areas altered by humans. They commonly nest in trees in cities or near farmsteads. [3]

Most mourning doves migrate along flyways over land. On rare occasions, mourning doves have been seen flying over the Gulf of Mexico, but this is exceptional. Spring migration north runs from March to May. Fall migration south runs from September to November, with immatures moving first, followed by adult females and then by adult males. Migration is usually during the day, in flocks, and at low altitudes. However, not all individuals migrate. Even in Canada some mourning doves remain through winter, sustained by the presence of bird feeders. [3]

Courtship begins with a noisy flight by the male, followed by a graceful, circular glide with outstretched wings and head down. After landing, the male will approach the female with a puffed-out breast, bobbing head, and loud calls. Mated pairs will often preen each other's feathers. [3]

The male then leads the female to potential nest sites, and the female will choose one. The female dove builds the nest. The male will fly about, gather material, and bring it to her. The male will stand on the female's back and give the material to the female, who then builds it into the nest. The nest is constructed of twigs, conifer needles, or grass blades, and is of flimsy construction. Mourning doves will sometimes requisition the unused nests of other mourning doves, other birds, or arboreal mammals such as squirrels. [3]

Most nests are in trees, both deciduous and coniferous. Sometimes, they can be found in shrubs, vines, or on artificial constructs like buildings, or hanging flower pots. When there is no suitable elevated object, mourning doves will nest on the ground. [3]

The clutch size is almost always two eggs. Occasionally, however, a female will lay her eggs in the nest of another pair, leading to three or four eggs in the nest. The eggs are white, 6.6 ml (0.23 imp fl oz; 0.22 US fl oz), 2.57–2.96 cm (1.01–1.17 in) long, 2.06–2.30 cm (0.81–0.91 in) wide, 6–7 g (0.21–0.25 oz) at laying (5–6% of female body mass). Both sexes incubate, the male from morning to afternoon, and the female the rest of the day and at night. Mourning doves are devoted parents; nests are very rarely left unattended by the adults. When flushed from the nest, an incubating parent may perform a nest-distraction display, or a broken-wing display, fluttering on the ground as if injured, then flying away when the predator approaches it. [3]

Incubation takes two weeks. The hatched young, called squabs, are strongly altricial, being helpless at hatching and covered with down. Both parents feed the squabs pigeon's milk (dove's milk) for the first 3–4 days of life. Thereafter, the crop milk is gradually augmented by seeds. Fledging takes place in about 11–15 days, before the squabs are fully grown but after they are capable of digesting adult food. They stay nearby to be fed by their father for up to two weeks after fledging. [3]

Mourning doves are prolific breeders. In warmer areas, these birds may raise up to six broods in a season. This fast breeding is essential because mortality is high. Each year, mortality can reach 58% a year for adults and 69% for the young. [3]

The mourning dove is monogamous and forms strong pair bonds. Pairs typically reconvene in the same area the following breeding season, and sometimes may remain together throughout the winter. However, lone doves will find new partners if necessary. [3]

Like other columbids, the mourning dove drinks by suction, without lifting or tilting its head. It often gathers at drinking spots around dawn and dusk.

Mourning doves sunbathe or rainbathe by lying on the ground or on a flat tree limb, leaning over, stretching one wing, and keeping this posture for up to twenty minutes. These birds can also waterbathe in shallow pools or bird baths.Dustbathing is common as well. [3]

Outside the breeding season, mourning doves roost communally in dense deciduous trees or in conifers. During sleep, the head rests between the shoulders, close to the body; it is not tucked under the shoulder feathers as in many other species. During the winter in Canada, roosting flights to the roosts in the evening, and out of the roosts in the morning, are delayed on colder days.[3]

Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E) EX

The passenger pigeon or wild pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct species of pigeon that was endemic to North America. Its common name is derived from the French word passager, meaning "passing by", due to the migratory habits of the species. The scientific name also refers to its migratory characteristics. The morphologically similar mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) was long thought to be its closest relative, and the two were at times confused, but genetic analysis has shown that the genus Patagioenas is more closely related to it than the Zenaida doves. [4]

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)

The passenger pigeon was sexually dimorphic in size and coloration. The male was 39 to 41 cm (15.4 to 16.1 in) in length, mainly gray on the upperparts, lighter on the underparts, with iridescent bronze feathers on the neck, and black spots on the wings. The female was 38 to 40 cm (15.0 to 15.7 in), and was duller and browner than the male overall. The juvenile was similar to the female, but without iridescence. It mainly inhabited the deciduous forests of eastern North America and was also recorded elsewhere, but bred primarily around the Great Lakes. The pigeon migrated in enormous flocks, constantly searching for food, shelter, and breeding grounds, and was once the most abundant bird in North America, numbering around 3 to 5 billion at the height of its population. It was not always as abundant, and the population size fluctuated rapidly over time. A very fast flyer, it could reach 100 km/h (62 mph). The bird fed mainly on mast, and also fruits and invertebrates. It practiced communal roosting and communal breeding, and its extreme gregariousness may be linked with searching for food and predator satiation. [4]

Passenger pigeons were hunted by Native Americans, but hunting intensified after the arrival of Europeans, particularly in the 19th century. Pigeon meat was commercialized as cheap food, resulting in hunting on a massive scale for many decades. There were several other factors contributing to the decline and subsequent extinction of the species, including shrinking of the large breeding populations necessary for preservation of the species and widespread deforestation, which destroyed its habitat. A slow decline between about 1800 and 1870 was followed by a rapid decline between 1870 and 1890. The last confirmed wild bird is thought to have been shot in 1900. The last captive birds were divided in three groups around the turn of the 20th century, some of which were photographed alive. Martha, thought to be the last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914, at the Cincinnati Zoo. The eradication of this species is a notable example of anthropogenic extinction. [4]

The passenger pigeon was found across most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast in the east, to the south of Canada in the north, and the north of Mississippi in the southern United States, coinciding with its primary habitat, the eastern deciduous forests. Within this range, it constantly migrated in search of food and shelter. It is unclear if the birds favored particular trees and terrain, but they were possibly not restricted to one type, as long as their numbers could be supported. It originally bred from the southern parts of eastern and central Canada south to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia in the United States, but the primary breeding range was in southern Ontario and the Great Lakes states south through states north of the Appalachian Mountains. Though the western forests were ecologically similar to those in the east, these were occupied by band-tailed pigeons, which may have kept out the passenger pigeons through competitive exclusion. [4]

The passenger pigeon wintered from Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina south to Texas, the Gulf Coast, and northern Florida, though flocks occasionally wintered as far north as southern Pennsylvania and Connecticut. It preferred to winter in large swamps, particularly those with alder trees; if swamps were not available, forested areas, particularly with pine trees, were favored roosting sites. There were also sightings of passenger pigeons outside of its normal range, including in several Western states, Bermuda, Cuba, and Mexico, particularly during severe winters. It has been suggested that some of these extralimital records may be considered as such more on the basis of the paucity of observers in what was then unsettled country than on the actual extent of wandering passenger pigeons, and that the bird may have appeared anywhere on the continent except for the far west. There were also records of stragglers in Scotland, Ireland, and France, although these birds may have been escaped captives, or the records simply incorrect. [4]

More than 130 passenger pigeon fossils have been found scattered across 25 states and provinces of the United States, including in the La Brea Tar Pits of California. These records date as far back as 100,000 years ago in the Pleistoceneera, during which the pigeon's range extended to several western states that were not a part of its modern range. The abundance of the species in these regions and during this time is unknown. [4]

References

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band-tailed_pigeon

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-winged_dove

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mourning_dove

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_pigeon 

 

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  • Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata - Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith - Flicker

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