Not many fans unless you race or collect them. Accused of falsely spreading diseases, they are ubiquitous and in good numbers, creating a messy situation wherever they reside. Just ask those unsuspecting automobile owners who may have erred in parking at a "dump" location. The result is not a pretty sight and I guess some paint jobs are never the same. Some birders do not even want to acknowledge them during Christmas Counts or big days. They are the bottom of the barrel.
Yes, the good old Rock Dove or commonly known as, Pigeons. Because they are everywhere, they have become the majority of prey for several raptor species who live in urban areas. Red-tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls and Peregrine Falcons I am sure have all at some time dined on (Columba livia). One would think they would fall easy prey every time one of those BADA** predators I mentioned had them in their sights. Right? Wait! Not so fast. Last Sunday, before I joined the chase for a Thick-billed Murre in Brooklyn, I along with Eric Miller witnessed (Columba livia), a white one at that out maneuver a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). Okay, so the Peregrine was a young bird, still the Rock Dove did an amazing job out flying, yes, I said out flying a Peregrine to safety. It was unbelievable!
The drama unfolded as I picked up a young Peregrine Falcon flying in from the west side of Baisley Pond Park in Queens NY. I alerted Eric and we watched as it made a dash at a flock of Pigeons singling out a White Pigeon, which did not look like your typical feral pigeon. I am going to guess that because of its color, (white makes it a target?) that the Pigeon had seen its share of battles because it acted like an escape pro. With the Peregrine hot on its heels, the Pigeon flew in between Eric and I (I wondered if that was a deliberate attempt to get the Peregrine thrown off its trail using us), and darted among the trees. As they came out of the trees, the Pigeon it would seem made a fatal mistake to go on a straight stretch where the Peregrine closed in almost touching the bird, but then the Pigeon stopped on a dime and dove to its right back into the trees and I was shocked to see the Peregrine lose ground. The Pigeon once back into the trees made for the nearby houses and flew into a v shaped overhang that was part of a house. The Peregrine realizing the space may be too small to enter gave up and then perched into a nearby tree with a sheepish expression that seemed to say, "I hope no one saw that." I was surprised, impressed and elated at seeing such a chase. Of course, I felt bad for the Peregrine because it looked embarassed, but I was also elated that the Pigeon had survived. Score one for (Columba livia) who lived to see another day.
Tags: Peregrine Falcon, Rock Dove, Baisley Pond Park