Speeding Bronzewing Pigeon
Most people who take an interest in birds know that the fastest bird is the Peregrine Falcon. In a stoop (dive) it can reach speeds of over 200kph and perhaps as fast as 300kph. Most other birds are quite pedestrian by comparison.
Common Bronzewing Pigeons and their cousins the Brush Bronzewings have always amazed me with their speed as they dart through the mallee scrub near here in Murray Bridge. I did not realise just how fast they are able to fly until recently.
We were returning from a visit to Lowan Conservation Park about 40 minutes drive northeast of home. The roadside vegetation is mainly mallee trees, typical of many roads in this area. Our approach disturbed a Common Bronzewing from the side of the road. It proceeded to fly at speed about twenty metres in front of the car. I was driving at about 90kph and was only steadily gaining on this speeding bird. It gradually veered off the road a little but still kept flying along parallel to the road. On catching it I slowed down and kept pace with it at about 85kph until it decided to veer off for a rest. In all, it must have covered at least 500 metres at this speed.
The other day I was watching a bronzewing pigeon in my garden collecting either insects or grubs for a nearby nest (it had been flying back and forth between the same places several times). I moved slowly towards it and it saw me but carried on its actions. After a few moments it moved into more open ground, laid partly on its side and raised one wing in the air, presumably displaying an ‘injured bird’. I have not seen this sort of behaviour with bronzewings.
Thanks for that observation Brian. I haven’t seen that kind of behaviour in pigeons either. It is quite common behaviour with many species, eg plovers and dotterals on beaches.
Pigeons and doves often sit in a sandy hollow with a wing extended sunning themselves, but this is obviously not what you were seeing. Interesting observation.