Band-tailed Pigeon: Wilderness Bird at Risk
"A longtime hunter in the coastal range of Oregon takes stock of his favorite prey, the band-tailed pigeon," reported "The New York Times in the summer of 2003. What made Worth Mathewson's writing about the western wilderness pigeon newsworthy is not his elegant evocation of the damp, spicy scent of a Pacific Northwest river valley before dawn or his keen observations of bandtails flying high and fast over a canyon, then folding their wings to drop into trees like gray darts. Rather the press took note of an avid hunter blaming overhunting and bad management for the devastation of a species. Wary by nature yet brave under fire, the magnificent bandtail has long thrilled the sportsman. Some attribute the bird's decline to habitat loss, but Mathewson, in this complete natural history, carefully builds his case to the contrary. While trichomoniasis and spraying of broadleaf trees may contribute, the human factor is paramount: a persistently callous attitude toward "Patagioenas fasciata may keep it in a downward spiral. If modest protections are lifted at the first signs of recovery, its fate may be sealed. "Nonhunters will likely be puzzled, perhaps irritated, by statements that some hunters love the quarry they kill," Mathewson writes. "But that is fact." With drawings by noted wildlife artist David Hagerbaumer, color photographs by the author and Margaret Thompson Mathewson, and an extensive bibliography, this finely rendered, affecting portrait of a wild bird with a troubled past is nothing short of a call to action.
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