This morning I sat in our kitchen to try and decide where I was going to walk when the the fog lifted. It was 8:30 and there was no sign of sun so I had plenty of time to decide. I looked up at the bird feeder and noticed what I thought was a very large pigeon on it. When I looked closer I saw that it wasn't a rock pigeon (Columba livia). It was bigger, had yellow feet and a yellow and black beak. There was a very faint white bar on the back of her neck with a few iridescent green feathers underneath, which I would have missed if I didn't know to look for them (after consulting David Sibley's Guide to Birds) I got out some paper and began sketching, thinking she would be leaving sooner than later. As I sketched, I noticed how unhealthy she looked and the way she moved her beak as she ate, as though something was caught in her throat. Not to mention the fact that she stayed at the feeder even though I was only 2 feet (61 cm) away from her. An hour later I stopped to walk to the bank with my dog. Still no sun. When I returned at 11 am the sun was finally beginning to show and several birds were lined up on the phone wire above the bird feeder looking down at the mystery bird, who had fallen asleep, preventing them from getting to their morning meal. I went inside and was pleased to see that she had perked up a bit and ate some more seed before flying off at 11:30. I'd already discovered that she was a Band-tailed Pigeon (Columba fasciata), a native to the western United States. Having never seen one before I wasn't surprised to find that these birds are normally found in coastal woodlands here in northern
California. I'll bet that there's a good story about how she ended up at a feeder in Santa Rosa, a good 35 miles from the coast and I hope that whatever ails her is temporary and that she'll be winging her way south for the winter.
As I wrote this post in the late afternoon my husband came to my studio to tell me that she's back at the feeder so maybe she'll stick around for a while.
More information about Band-tailed pigeons:
All About Birds