Thursday, April 27, 2017

White-crowned Pigeon

White-crowned Pigeon
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Pigeon and Dove Family
§A Passel of Pigeons§

~true bird fact~ Truly an island bird, White-crowned pigeons nest in an entirely different habitat than they feed in, sometimes flying across entire bodies of water to get from one to the other. They nest mostly in mangrove groves and feed on the fruits of hardwood trees. They're strong fliers, traveling up to 30 miles each way for this commute. It's said they can outpace a speed boat. Is this surprisingly fast? Let's do some math. (All research done using google search)

Pigeons fly at an average speed of 77 mph, which is actually quite fast for a bird. In fact, the fastest self-propelled horizontal flight speed (ie. not in a dive) in the bird kingdom belongs to a member of the pigeon family, the homing pigeon, which has been measured at 110mph (!!). An average bird, say, an unladen swallow, travels at about 30-40mph. An average, not-super-expensive speed boat travels at approx 45mph, so yes, this bird flies a lot faster than a speed boat.  I'm so glad we learned this about pigeons today guys.

How endangered are they? I regret to inform you that these cool, fast pigeons are also rapidly approaching danger, in addition to boats. They are categorized by the IUCN as a 'Vulnerable' species. In other words, they are not quite endangered, but definitely threatened. There are about 7500 nesting pairs in FL, but the real worry is their declining numbers throughout their largely Caribbean range.  They get hunted some, but the biggest threat is lost of their nesting habitat, which often gets cut down to grow crops, especially sugarcane. They're also a bird positioned to be hit especially hard by climate change, since they basically only eat this one type of fruit, and if the seasons go all nuts, that would be a major problem for them.

Always getting IDed, despite being more than old enough
Surprises you with his somewhat old-fashioned views
Prefers to buy used things rather than new things
Fond of idiosyncratic clothing choices (ie. straw pork pie hat)

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