life in cape may

A Pigeon Comes to Town

Photo: Scott Elowtiz

Posted 1/19/07
by Jane Kashlak

Cape May, NJ - It was a rainy, January weekday in Cape May - not the kind of day that draws tourists to town.

But photographer Scott Elowitz from Freehold and Linda Matula from Randolph NJ were among more than a hundred birders who flocked to Stevens St. for a peek at, of all things, a pigeon.

Mind you - this was no ordinary pigeon.

Band-tailed Pigeon

This Band-tailed Pigeon, which hails from the West Coast, has only been seen once before in New Jersey, more than 20 years ago in Sussex County. (Yes they keep track of these things.).

And, the bird could have gone unnoticed this time, but for the fact that he landed in a backyard on Stevens St., right next door to eagle-eyed, nationally known birder and author Michael O'Brien.

O'Brien's neighbor, Arthur Joblin, keeps his 14 bird feeders well stocked. That's where O'Brien first saw the Band-tailed Pigeon - chowing down under the feeders, just like all the other neighborhood birds.

Soon, the pigeon with the yellow feet and bill was perching in nearby bare trees, settling in for who knows how long.

Mystery bird

How did this western native get here? O'Brien says it's a mystery. There are no obvious weather patterns, he says, that could explain how North America's largest pigeon turned up in Cape May.

Just one more for the state record books. And for Cape May's long list of rare birds.

Retired Drexel Univeristy physics professor and fledgling birder Arthur Joblin is pleased with his backyard guest of honor.

He filled up all of his 14 bird feeders and got ready for the real spectacle this weekend - the crowds of birders who no doubt will show up on his doorstep to catch a glimpse of - yes, a pigeon.

More Cape May info

Photo: Michael O'Brien

Related info..

Click here for Michael O'Brien's latest book:
The Shorebird Guide

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