This morning I was mesmerized by a scene on the Sound-side bluff in front of our home in Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula. In Hitchcockian proportions, the sky and garden to our fore was cyclonic in flocks of Pacific Crows, European Starlings, Band-tailed Pigeons and Western Gulls. The fruit of the Pacific Madrona had obviously reached a palatable ripeness and a bacchalian feast had begun.
I was particularly pleased to see so many Band-tailed Pigeons. These giant, gentle and elegant doves are normally seen in pairs or more disturbingly, during hunting season, single. The fruit of the Cascara, Rhamnus purshiana, is also favored by this species as is the red drupes of our Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii. Both of these trees however are on the decline in our region; the Cascara removed from landscapes as undesirable and the Dogwood due to anthracnose. As a rather fascinating aside, the Band-tailed pigeon has recently been found to carry a louse species, Columbicola extinctus, that had long been thought to have been extirpated along with its only other known host, the Passenger Pigeon. [Read more…]