Birds in the garden (9): the Bare-eyed pigeon

One of the larger pigeons on the island, this species has gone from being rare to abundantly present in 15 years.

ENGLISH: Bare-eyed Pigeon
DUTCH: Naaktoogduif
PAPIAMENTO: Ala blanca (Palomba di mondi on Bonaire)
SCIENTIFIC: 𝘗𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴

The most well known local pigeon species on the island is the Ala blanca or Bare-eyed Pigeon, which can now be seen in large numbers in almost all neighborhoods. Until about 25 years ago, the numbers of this species on the island were alarmingly low. The animals preferred to stay in wild locations with minimum interactions with humans. However, there was a change in the shy behavior, and as a result the numbers of these birds soared, entering urban areas on the island in search of food and the birds thereby also adjusted the food choice. In various places on the island, the animals are now even considered to be a pest. Those who regularly admire sunsets will wonder what the large groups of flying birds are, which are on the move. In 9 out of 10 cases you are looking at a flock of Bare-eyed Pigeons.

The most striking feature of the Ala blanca is the black ring around the eye, which is not always clearly visible in young animals. In addition, of course, the white stripes on both wings, which are especially visible in flight, but are also visible in a sitting position. These animals also sometimes have slightly iridescent neck feathers, which light up when the sunlight falls directly on them. The animals are large with a length of 34 centimeters and, in addition to seeds, they also eat fruits and even fries when they are around snack bars or junk food restaurants. The Ala blanca breeds on Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao and according to the latest literature there is a lot of migration between the islands.

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