Band-Tailed Pigeon

Columba fasciata
Range Map

There are two distinct populations of these birds, with no apparent overlap in their respective ranges. One group lives on the North American west coast from British Columbia into northern Baja California (Mexico). In southern California and north to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, these birds are resident year round.

The second group visits the southern inter-mountain states of the USA only in summer and spends winters in higher elevations throughout Mexico, Central America and south to northern Argentina.

Taxonomist believe there are six or more subspecies (in two groups) of Band-Tailed Pigeon, but many feel this species requires further investigation and redefinition:

  • North American
    • P. f. monilis breeds British Columbia, and possibly southeastern Alaska, south to southern California, and western Nevada. They spend winters in central California southward, sometimes in southeastern British Columbia, and east of their breeding range.
    • P. f. fasciata breeds in the mountains from northern Colorado, central Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas, south through Mexico into Central America. The northern populations migrate in winter to southern Arizona and New Mexico southward and often moving to lower elevations.
    • P. f. vioscae lives in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains of southern Baja California (Mexico).
  • Central and South American
    • P. f. parva lives in northern Nicaragua.
    • P. f. letonai lives in Honduras and El Salvador.
    • P. f. crissalis lives in Costa Rica and western Panama.
    • P. f. albilinea lives in Colombia east through Venezuela and Trinidad, and south through Andes to northwestern Argentina.
    • P. f. roraimae lives in southeastern Venezuela.

The North American population has suffered an over 60% decline since 1966. Unregulated hunting has taken a huge toll on these birds, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Several states continue to allow hunting of these birds.

My experience with these birds has shown them to be shy and cautious subjects. The only meetings I’ve had were in the mountains in the Peninsular Ranges in east San Diego County. Often the only clues they provide to their presence is the loud wing-flapping as they leave their high perches ahead of me, to pursue a perch even further away.

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