So over the fall and winter, we and other neighbors have noticed a lot of injured pigeons (or bits of pigeon leftover after something ate one). Luckily, there is a veterinarian nearby that has some sort of helping pigeon program… as far as I know, it’s just pigeons, but literally all I have to do is call ahead and bring it in, and they do their best for the bird. Most of the time the bird would probably die of a mixture of exposure, shock, injuries, etc. on its own and I know, circle of life and all that, and heck, pigeons (actually, rock doves) aren’t even native… but I’m sorry, I can’t just let a bird die a slow miserable death if I am able to carefully put it in a cat carrier. Usually I end up keeping them overnight because they’re discovered when it’s Saturday night or some night, which means the vet is closed. They get to spend the night in the carrier, resting in the basement with a bowl of water and seeds.
The last bird I dropped off had one of a pair of wing bones broken (one of the radius/ulna, can’t remember which), which they hoped would be an anatomical splint for the injury and allow it to heal. Previous to that, we had a bird which at least had a warm night and quick gentle end. There were several others that our neighbors brought over.
We hadn’t known what was causing the injury, just that they were happening. We thought it might be a cat. Whatever it was, we thought it wasn’t very effective as it felt an unusual number of pigeons were being attacked unsuccessfully–maybe they were a young hawk, or whatever.
Ryan once spotted something on the security cameras, a ‘dark hawklike bird’ ‘swooped’ in and chased another black bird (I think that time, a starling, but might have been a dark pigeon) along parallel to the snow until just past the edge of the camera, poof an explosion of feathers. I didn’t get a chance to go and look at the video, so I couldn’t guess what it was… I mean, there aren’t a lot of ‘dark’ hawk bird options, and I’m not sure his idea of hawk and mine are the same.
But at least we did have visual confirmation at least one of the predators feeding from the fed birds was another bird.
Today, I happened to go into the kitchen, and saw something like an odd shaped big pigeon on the snowbank (literally at window height because of the roof snow dump pile being so high) and realized it wasn’t a pigeon, it was a Kestrel! So I quick tried to take a few pictures with Ryan’ phone, the closest camera device, but it had moved. It moved into the tree in our renter’s yard. I went back on the security cameras to see what it actually was doing–I had leaned as close to the window as I could and didn’t see any breakfast on the snow by the window.
So here is what the camera captured. It takes about 15 seconds from the start to see the action start, keep an eye on the shadows in the full sun on the right side of the screen, near the flag pole and tree. We also had a chick-a-dee visiting. This might also explain why there have been so many failed attacks on the pigeons, a pigeon is MUCH bigger than normal prey for a Kestrel. Maybe this one is new to the territory, or not great at catching mice and squirrels, and with as much snow as we’ve had, I bet the mice are able to hid and tunnel.
I went out a little bit later to look for the pigeon, as far as I could tell on camera, it was still hiding. I spotted it, it looked a little rattled but wasn’t bleeding. I brought out some sunflower seeds for it to munch while recovering, it had stayed down near the kitchen end of the crevice. It wasn’t sure about me, so it decided to head to the other side of the crevice, then decided it the coast was clear as I backed away so it hopped up on the snow bank. It looked a little ragged in the feather department, but was able to walk up the snow bank, then flew up to the power lines.
Here are the screen shots from the video, I cropped them. I was trying to see color of the back and wings, I think it’s a female… but I’m not sure because the lighting is o.k. for shape but not color when the bird was closest.
So, I hope to not find a corpse or injured bird back on my porch any time soon… Once it’s summer, I am going to try to create a feeder set-up that I can feed the other birds without feeding the pigeons, so they don’t flock to my yard so densely. I want to keep feeding in winter but with as many as 40 pigeons, it’s making this a hot hunting ground for them, as well as going through a lot of seed, and if there’s a few days in a row where I don’t refill and scatter feed I suspect they may be uncomfortable. If I can taper off how much they depend on my feeders over the summer, maybe they will find other food sources going into winter, and maybe not breed so much this summer if they’re not getting fat on my bird seed!