Letters to the Editor

Pigeons under stress

This is regarding a letter in response to an article in The Tribune related to the demise of bandtailed pigeons (“Pigeons like solar,” Feb. 11): According to an environmental scientist, large numbers of band-tailed pigeons were evidently victims of a parasite being spread by rock pigeons. The parasite was not named. However, trichomonas is common, ubiquitous in nature and is carried by both types of pigeons as well as doves, turkeys and other wild birds that might share drinking areas that dried up this summer.

Many birds tolerate trichomonas in balance. However, if a population is additionally stressed, as with the current drought, resistance can be lowered, with deadly results. Band-tailed pigeons are particularly susceptible to trichomonas infection, as those working with them in rehabilitation facilities will verify.

There is a possibility that a highly virulent strain of the organism was responsible for the alarming number of deaths. Equating a disease outbreak with populations of common pigeons in cities or “roosting under solar panels” is an oversimplification, and to malign these birds is a “knee jerk” reaction. Drastic reductions of native pigeon flocks could as easily be linked to our changing climate and environment in which they have to live.

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