Ecology of band-tailed pigeons in Oregon

Biological Report - US Fish & Wildlife Service
By:  and 


  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core


The ecology of band-tailed pigeons (Columba fasciata) was investigated in western Oregon to assess the roles of survival and recruitment to population status and the relation of food, minerals, and diet to reproduction strategy. Band-tailed pigeons congregated at mineral deposits to consume minerals from mid-June to mid-September. Males generally arrived and departed between daylight and 1000 h and females between 0930 and 1200 h, the inverse of the nest attentive schedules for the sexes. The pigeons used one or several adjacent mineral sites throughout the summer and most returned to the same mineral site in subsequent years. Band-tailed pigeons were resident from April through September; migration apparently did not begin before late September. Three indirect sources of evidence indicated that fledging began in June, reached a peak in mid- August, and continued until late September. Second year (SY) band-tailed pigeons apparently began nesting later than and were about one-third as productive as adults. In Oregon, most of the adult population could fledge as many as two young over the 100-110-day nesting period, resulting in a maximum potential recruitment of 47-50% juveniles. We estimated that the fall population contained about 23% juveniles, 12% yearlings, and 65% adults. Mean annual survival of adults was 63.7%, but was year-specific. To maintain a stable population with the estimated survival rates required production near the biotic potential (40.8%). Conversely, a stable population could be attained with the estimated rate of recruitment (23%) and high but realistic rates of survival (adults, 83%; juveniles, 68%). Counts of band-tailed pigeons at mineral sites in Oregon indicated that the population had undergone two periods of modest increase (2.4-7.1% per year) and two periods of sharp decline (10.4-11.1% per year). In 1988 the population index was only 34% of the 1950-88 average. Harvest of band-tailed pigeons in the three Pacific Coast states averaged 414,000 from 1957 to 1983; about 55% of the harvest took place in California, 23% in Washington, and 22% in Oregon. In Oregon, about 65% of the harvest took place in the first 10 days of September and 40% was at mineral sites. Fewer juveniles were shot at mineral sites (13%) than at feeding areas (25%). Hunting at mineral sites was directed at experienced breeders and may be particularly detrimental to the population. However, the overall effect of hunting on abundance was not determined. Band-tailed pigeons fed extensively on elder (Sambucus spp.) and cascara buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) berries while nesting. The emergence of Pacific red elder (S. callicarpa) berries in June provided the food resources necessary for initiation of reproduction in Oregon, and probably throughout the Northwest. Elder berries contain little calcium (0.06-0.12%), therefore, the pigeons in the Northwest may require a mineral supplement in their diet. Mineral sites may be the scarcest resource required for reproduction by band-tailed pigeons in the Northwest.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ecology of band-tailed pigeons in Oregon
Series title Biological Report - US Fish & Wildlife Service
Volume 6
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Description 38 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table