Band-Tailed Pigeon -- Birds with an Owl-Like Call

For years we thought we likely had an owl in the forest near our house because we would sometimes hear a call that sounded very much to us like "whoooo." We'd looked in the past to see if we could find his call on the internet, but had never been successful at finding one that sounded just like it. And some owls sounded very much unlike it!

When coming home from a walk the other day, I snapped a couple pictures of birds in our neighbor's trees. I wondered what type they were, and the idea popped in my mind that perhaps they were what we had been hearing. My curiosity to find out what type of bird had been making that call was re-lit, and at home we got on the 'net to search some more.

Still hanging on to the idea that the sound might be from an owl, at first we listened again to some owl calls. None that we listened to on eNature sounded like what we had heard. Then I searched pigeons and doves, and sure enough after some extra searching on Google, we finally found it. The call we were hearing was actually that of the Band-tailed Pigeon .

Thank goodness we weren't the only ones who felt that their call sounds like an owl. The article on Wikipedia about Band-tailed Pigeons describes their voice as "low-pitched and owl-like, often in two-syllable calls that rise and then fall (huu-ooh) with even spacing between calls." And on eNature it's voice is described as "A deep owl-like whoo-hoo."

BirdWeb's page on the Band-tailed Pigeon describes their appearance this way:

Washington's native pigeon, the Band-tailed, is soft gray like the Rock Dove, but longer and sleeker. The largest of Washington's pigeons and doves, it is all gray, with a lighter gray, banded tail. The bill and feet are yellow, and the eye is black with a thin, red, fleshy eye ring. Adults have a white collar at the nape of the neck with an iridescent green patch beneath it. Breasts and bellies are washed in a pinkish-mauve. Adult males and females look alike; juveniles are an overall gray.

There are three pigeons in this tree (the picture at the top of this post is a close-up of the bird on the left). It was taken on April 22, 2009:


  1. I found you searching google for "birds that sound like owls", or something like that. My 4 year old and I have been going crazy trying to find the "owl" in our backyard - we finally saw it today. It was pretty high up in a tree but it didn't look like an owl at all! I think this is what we might have. We're in Redmond, Oregon. :)

  2. Hi, Amanda! I was a little disappointed when I found out that the "owls" we heard weren't really owls. LOL I'm glad you were able to finally see the "owl" in your backyard! :D I'm so glad you stopped by my blog, and thank you for your comment!

  3. My 5 year old, 9 month old and I set out this evening to finally track down that owl we've been hearing for some time now. To our surprise it was a pigeon! I googled "pigeons that sound like owls" and found your blog confirming our suspicion and teaching us more about the native bird. I can't wait to share the information with my son in the morning!


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