Feral pigeons (Columba livia) and Seabirds

airam-rodriguezAiram Rodríguez

Dear all,
I was wondering if you know of any cases of pigeons acting as nest competitors with any seabird species. We have observed how the increase of feral pigeons reduces the breeding success of Bulwer petrels by means of nest competition on the Canary Islands. The rock pigeon (Columba livia) is considered an invasive species. In the Canaries, it is native, but genetic introgression with domestic pigeons and anthropogenic activities make that pigeons become pests. The Canarian Bulwer’s petrel faces several human-related threats on land, i.e. predation by introduced mammal predators, collisions with electric wires, road casualties, habitat destruction, and attraction to artificial night lights. These threats mainly occur on the main inhabited islands. Owing to this fact, the bulk of the breeding pairs are currently restricted to geographically small secure breeding sites (mostly marine rocks) because of predation by introduced predators (cats and rats). We highlight an overlooked threat to these petrel sanctuaries: pigeon competition for nesting sites. We have uploaded a preprint on Research Square (available at https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-550854/v1). Comments are welcome!
Please, let us know if you know of any cases of feral pigeons competing with seabirds.
Thanks in advance,
Very best
Airam

patrick-talbotPatrick Talbot
  • 25 May

Good day Airam,

We have a serious problem with feral pigeons competing with White-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon **lepturus) for nesting sites in Bermuda. The Tropicbirds nest only over late spring to early Fall in natural erosion cavities in the limestone cliffs around the island. The pigeons tend to move into nesting spaces when they depart soiling the nests and infusing them with mites. The government actively controls the feral pigeons to prevent this as much as possible. If we have major storm activity resulting in habitat destruction this increases competition for nest sites with the Tropicbirds which can be further compounded if feral pigeons are using surviving sites.

Patrick Talbot
Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo