Friday, September 26, 2008

Roller Pigeons

On Saturday morning August 23 I was doing what I usually do, birding the neighborhood. Walking down Broadmeade I saw a few pigeons fly over the tree line. (Rock Pigeons are very common in the city but a bit unusual in the neighborhood.) While I watched, one of them did a couple somersaults in the air and kept flying. What?! I didn't quite believe my eyes and continued my birding. But when I got home I had an email titled "Roller Pigeon" from my neighbor and fellow birder Steven McDonald saying:
I'm pretty sure I just saw one of these, it was a pigeon flying over the backyard and then it did a couple of tumbles and regained it's flight. I only saw it do it once, but from everything I've read about them that's exactly the behavior they exhibit.
That made me remember the bird I saw, and reassured me that I wasn't hallucinating! Over the next few days Steven reported seeing a few more. Last weekend on Sunday morning I finally saw a group of them myself. I was on the Broadmeade bridge near Meadowheath looking west and saw about 20 pigeons in flight, circling around a small area probably over Moorberry St. As I watched, 1 or 2 birds at a time would drop from the flock, flipping in midair, and then start flying again and rejoin the others. What a sight!

So I guess someone near Moorberry Street breeds and flies Roller Pigeons. If that's you, I'd love to hear more about it! (But I wonder if these birds might be easy prey for the many Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks we have here in the winter.)

Update: This morning (9/27/2008) I was birding in the same area and got the above picture of the Roller Pigeons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'd never heard of these pigeons. I'll keep an eye out for them on walks.