The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, January 07, 2015, Page 9, Image 9

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    Wednesday, January 7, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Tales from a
by Jim Anderson
Our band-tailed
There I was, checking my
email — as I do every morn-
ing — when up pops one
from my good friend and fel-
low airman down the road,
Sage Dorsey.
Every once in a while,
Sage will strap me into the
back seat of his beautiful
Bellanca Scout and we’ll fly
out over forest and rimrock
looking for a new golden
eagle nest.
Well, Sage announced he
had a band-tailed pigeon in
his backyard. Three of them,
as a matter of fact. Now,
Old Jim, being the wise and
knowledgeable naturalist
that he is, responded with
a know-it-all note suggest-
ing Sage had mistaken the
band-tailed for our current
pestiferous alien, the Asian
collared dove.
Sage patiently responded
that he knew the band-tailed
from years of hunting them
as a kid in southwest Oregon,
and upon reading that com-
ment, I said to myself, “Uh-
oh! Foot-in-mouth-disease
has struck Old Jim again.”
About four days later, my
wife, Sue and I had supper
over at Mary Smith’s home
near Cascade Estates, and
after a dessert of deee-licious
berry pie and ice cream she
said, “Hey, come over here
and see the bird photos I shot
yesterday in my backyard.”
Yep, you guessed it: three
beautiful portraits of a band-
tailed pigeon.
So they have been dis-
covered in Sisters Country.
Now the question is, where
else have they been seen?
I sent an email to my
expert birder pals Tom
Crabtree and Chuck Gates
to see what they had to say.
Tom wanted to know how
many and where, and said,
“Nice picture. Is it still
around? They aren’t real
common unless you are near
the crest of the Cascades. I’d
say we average a couple of
reports a year.”
Chuck said, “Deschutes
band-tails are pretty rare.
About 20 records going back
to the ’60s. What was the
date of this sighting? They
will sometimes hang around
a while if they are coming to
a feeder.”
Now it’s your turn. Please
keep your eyes open if you
have a bird feeder. Or if
you’re a hiker. Take a good
look at Mary’s splendid pho-
tograph and let me know if
you see them at your home,
the park, or anywhere else
in Central Oregon. (I’ll
buy you a milkshake if you
have a valid report, you can
reach me at jim@northwest
The band-tailed pigeon
(Patagioenas fasciata) is
a medium-sized pigeon
found throughout the west-
ern U.S., British Columbia,
Washington, California and
Southern Arizona. It can
also be found — much to
my surprise — in the higher
elevations of Mexico and
Central America all the way
to northern Argentina.
The bird was firs t
described by Thomas Say, a
pioneering American natu-
ralist who is widely consid-
ered the father of descriptive
entomology in the U.S. He
was collecting insects in the
Rocky Mountains in 1824,
spotted the big, beautiful
pigeon, named it for science,
and published the account in
the Journal of the Academy
of Natural Sciences of
In late summer it migrates
out of Oregon into northern
California, New Mexico, and
parts of Utah and Colorado.
photo by mary Smith
our band-tailed pigeon (patagioenas fasciata), photographed in
Cascades estates, located between sisters and Bend.
One of their prime foods is
acorns (which may be why
we don’t see them around
here too often).
They’re present all year
in some areas, especially
on the Pacific Coast, but
mainly summer elsewhere,
including the northwestern
coast and southwestern inte-
rior. Strays have reached the
Atlantic Coast.
Like all pigeons, it builds
a rudimentary platform nest
out of twigs, in which it lays
one or two eggs. Outside
the breeding season it forms
flocks, sometimes over 50
birds, and often becomes
nomadic, following the
acorn crop or moving to
lower altitudes or other areas
outside its breeding range.
Sage thought they were
blown here in the last big
windstorm we had, and I
tend to agree with him. After
all, he obviously knows a
lot more about band-tailed
pigeons than I do…
Thank you, Sage, Mary,
Tom and Chuck for opening
my eyes and poor old brain
to the possibility of see-
ing more of these beautiful
pigeons in Central Oregon.