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Birds feel safe roosting on wires

I moved here from the Midwest eight years ago. Since then, I’ve been puzzled by the birds on the wires above the McAndrews/Biddle intersection. What brings them there? Why don’t I see them anywhere else?

— Carolyn, via email

Some of us at Since You Asked have had similar sightings, Carolyn. It’s a little strange, to be sure.

On a wing and a prayer, we turned to a bona fide bird expert to see if we could track down an answer. Stewart Janes, a Southern Oregon University biology professor who writes a monthly bird column for the Mail Tribune, said the birds you’re seeing up on those wires are either starlings or rock pigeons — rock doves is an older name they go by.

“There are any number of times I have waited at the traffic light and wondered if I would proceed on my errands with a few additions to the paint job on the car,” Janes told us by email.

Rock pigeons prefer to nest on ledges or in recesses where they are protected from predators. Freeway overpasses provide similar shelter and offer similar nooks and crannies for roosting.

Next time you’re stopped at the light, check to see if one of the birds has two black bars on their wings and a white rump patch. That’s definitely a rock pigeon.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.