Friday, September 02, 2005

The Search is Over!!

The Single Banded Foot is that of a rock pigeon, and a racer to boot!

Thanks to tony g, Nuthatch, Terry Sprague, members of the Eastern Ontario Nature Listserv, Chris Grooms, Mark Peck (ornithologist at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto), and finally Dorothy of the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union (CRPU)!

The origin of the bird will never be known--not without the other leg, as I expected. But it turns out, according to Dorothy at the CRPU, that the black band is informative. It is an electronic timing device, of the kind used on racing pigeons.

I learned a lot during this investigation. First, that I don't know much about birds' feet. I grew up in Toronto surrounded by rock pigeons (known until 2003 as "rock doves")and never looked at their feet. I was completely wrong about the kind of bird this was--the strength of the nails, and their curve suggested raptor to me--but the very first responses I got told me how wrong this was. I should have known better, perhaps, from the Gray Owl foot I had the opportunity to study earlier this year. (See Great Gray Tragedy.)

Also the bands I have now learned are bigger than bands that are put on wild birds--again, suggested by the first commenters, tony g and Nuthatch, based on their experiences banding birds. I am now determined to get out to Prince Edward Point in the County to help with the banding next spring.

But maybe the best thing about this whole chapter in my life as a growing birder was experiencing the generosity of the birding community in their willingness to help with this small, weird identification problem.

Thanks again!

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