[Tweeters] I've got my own Passenger Pigeons

Dennis Paulson dennispaulson at comcast.net
Sat Nov 1 11:39:20 PDT 2014

Tweets, there are 16 Band-tailed Pigeons in the yard now, crowded into two feeders, wandering around below them and constantly flying back and forth between trees and feeders. I just finished A Message from Martha, Mark Avery’s book on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and what lessons we can take from it today. You probably know about the research in de-extinction of the species by genetically altering Band-tailed genomes to be more and more like Passengers (it’s more complicated than that, but you can read about it online).

Anyway, after reading about the extinct species, I can really see the similarities. These Band-tailed descend on the yard in a (small) horde and gobble up food as fast as they can. I can slowly approach the big living-room window and stand there and watch them, but if I make the least sudden move, they are off in a roar of wings. They are much more predator-aware than Passenger Pigeons apparently were. They constantly fly into the window that’s about 10 feet from the feeder, even with me standing there, and bounce right off. I have no idea what’s on their mind, as they never fly into any other windows, and so far none has seemed to damage itself, as they go right back to feeding. They do leave pigeon dust all over the window.

Band-tails are one of the very few pigeons that normally lay only one egg—just like the Passenger Pigeon. They feed on mast crops such as acorns just like PAPI but are less tied to them. They have a very varied vegetarian diet, but like PAPI, flocks of BTPI will discover a localized food source and not leave until it is exhausted. They are very different from Mourning Doves, as were Passenger Pigeons.

A juvenile landed on the feeder yesterday, and it had no white neck ring and a very reddish breast, and a chill went through me as I got such strong Passenger Pigeon vibes.

Dennis Paulson
1724 NE 98 St.
Seattle, WA 98115
dennispaulson at comcast.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list