Feral Pigeon – 2003-07 breeding

Columba livia – COLOMEN Y GRAIG / COLOMEN DDOF – Feral Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed60119
Breeding probable1774
Breeding possible6640
No of tetrads occupied143 (of 478)233 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads29.9%47.6%

Feral Pigeons are domesticated birds that have escaped from captivity to breed in a wild state, as well as their descendants. Such domestic birds are derivatives from Rock Doves which have been selectively bred as racers, or to breed throughout the year when they were relied upon as a food resource. Selective breeding has resulted in a great variety of plumage patterns, including some which approximate to their Rock Dove ancestors. It is unlikely that any pure bred Rock Doves have survived in Pembrokeshire because of inter breeding with the numerically preponderant feral varieties. Feral Pigeons in Pembrokeshire nest on ledges in buildings, quarries and sea cliffs.

Comparing the distribution in 1984-88 with that of 2003-07 shows a 63% increase by the latter period. The number of registrations diminished along parts of the coast in the west and north but showed an increase inland, albeit with a considerable adjustment in localities. The increase accords with the findings of the BBS, which assessed a 69% increase in Wales as a whole between 1994 and 2007. The estimate made at the end of 1988 of 3,000 pairs in Pembrokeshire, attempted to allow for larger concentrations in towns than elsewhere. Assuming the estimate was realistic and applying a 63% increase, suggests that approaching 5,000 pairs were nesting in 2007. The reasons for the increase are not known but a diminished interest in maintaining lofts by pigeon racers, with a consequent release of birds, may have been a contributory factor.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

Rees G.H., Haycock R.J., Haycock A, Hodges J.E., Sutcliffe S.J., Jenks P, and Dobbins R. 2008, Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07. Pembrokeshire Bird Group.

More about the Feral Pigeon in Pembrokeshire