Conservation status Numbers were once seriously depleted by overhunting. With protection, made a fair comeback; in recent decades declining again, undoubtedly for different reasons.
Family Pigeons and Doves
Habitat Oak canyons, foothills, chaparral, mountain forests. Mainly in wooded or semi-open habitats; moves around to take advantage of changing food supplies. Breeds in oak woodland along the coast and in mountains, also in pine-oak woods and fir forest. May forage along streams in lowland desert. Increasingly regular in suburban areas on Pacific Coast.
This big pigeon, larger than the familiar park pigeon, is common in parts of the west. It lives along much of the Pacific Coast and in the mountains, moving about nomadically to feed on acorns, berries, or other wild food crops. Band-tails are sociable, foraging in flocks at most seasons and often nesting in small colonies. Unlike many doves, they do much of their feeding up in trees, clambering about with surprising agility to pluck berries.

Feeding Behavior

Will forage on ground or in trees. Can climb about with great agility in small branches, even hanging upside down to reach berries. Usually forages in flocks, even during breeding season.


1, sometimes 2. White. Incubation is by both parents, 18-20 days. Young: Both parents feed young "pigeon milk." Young leave nest about 25-30 days after hatching, are tended by parents for some time thereafter. 2 broods per year, sometimes 3.


Both parents feed young "pigeon milk." Young leave nest about 25-30 days after hatching, are tended by parents for some time thereafter. 2 broods per year, sometimes 3.


Mostly nuts, seeds, berries. Diet shifts with season. Acorns are major part of diet when available. Eats many berries, including those of elderberry, manzanita, juniper, wild grape, many others. Also eats seeds, tender young spruce cones, buds, young leaves, flowers, occasionally insects.


Several pairs may nest close together in loose colony. In courtship, male flies up and then glides in a wide circle, giving a wheezing call and fluttering wings toward end of glide. On perch, male coos with chest and neck puffed up, tail lowered and spread. Nest site is in coniferous or deciduous tree, usually 15-40' above ground, can be lower or much higher. Placed on fork of horizontal branch or at base of branch against trunk. Nest is a bulky but loosely-built platform of sticks; male brings material, female builds.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Present all year in some areas, especially on Pacific Coast; mainly summer resident elsewhere, including northwestern coast and southwestern interior. Often nomadic, flocks concentrating where food supplies are good. Strays have reached Atlantic Coast.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

A deep owl-like whoo-hoo.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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