Yesterday morning, I was just getting out of bed when I got word from Al Sinclair about a Band-tailed Pigeon that was coming to his feeder in Bracebridge. I immediately rounded up David Bell and Reuven Martin and we were on the road almost immediately. Along the way, Al was giving me constant updates of the bird as I pushed the pedal to the metal. We did see a few birds along the way, including an adult Golden Eagle slowly crossing Mavis Rd. while we were stopped in traffic, and 4 separate Northern Shrikes along HWY 400 and 11. At around 2:00 PM, Al emailed me that the bird had flown into some hemlocks and he was going to wait pursuing it until we arrived. Around 3:15 we rolled into the driving, but despite a few hours of searching his property as well as waiting at the feeder, the pigeon didn't show. Dejected, we headed back to Guelph. That evening I was determined to try again the following morning.
This morning, after sleeping in by accident, David and I left Guelph to try for the pigeon once again. After carpooling with Andrew Keaveney and Sarah-Jane Stranger-Guy we arrived around 10:30. Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway were already there, and Jean informed us that it was still present but hidden in some branches. Eventually Jean's sharp eye picked out a pigeon like shape and got everyone else on it. My first view of Ontario's 12th Band-tailed Pigeon:
The pigeon spent its entire time while we there resting in the tree, occasionally eating snow. We were hoping that it would go to the bird feeders so that we could have better looks at it, but it stayed in place. It may be "only" a pigeon, but I was happy to see one in Ontario! The last record was in 2003.
The bird was a juvenile and can be identified by its bright yellow bill, yellow feet, large size, and tail band, among other things.
Band-tailed Pigeon is a code-5 rarity - my 6th rarity of the year so far. With the Golden Eagle and Band-tailed Pigeon, my year list is now 129 and I am still missing species like Common Grackle, Chipping Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, etc.