did you think all pigeons are domestic or feral? No, they are not. There remain populations that have nothing in common with these. Researchers at Oxford University found them on isolated islands in Scotland and Ireland. They are fewer and fewer. Rock pigeons are disappearing.
“Feral” pigeons originate from escaped domestic birds. These domestic pigeons are descended from wild feral pigeons. They are the ones that nest in sea caves and mountainous areas.
Refuge on the islands
Once, feral pigeons populated Africa, Asia and Europe. But this is changing. Researcher Will Smith explains. “It’s a challenge for researchers because of extensive interbreeding and replacement with wild pigeons.”
Rock pigeons now persist only in small populations. Many ornithologists believe that there are no truly wild feral pigeons left. However, there are potential colonies in certain places. For example, the Faroe Islands, parts of the Mediterranean, and parts of Scotland and Ireland.
Researchers studied populations of birds believed to be feral pigeons. DNA was analyzed to determine if the birds were truly wild. Also, the degree of interbreeding between the two forms of the species was measured.
The results showed largely marked interbreeding. But there is one place where this does not happen. It is in the Outer Hebrides, belonging to Scotland. Feral pigeons remain almost free from the influence of feral pigeons.
However, feral pigeons are arriving on these islands with increasing frequency. The distribution of wild feral pigeons in the UK will soon decline. Yes, feral pigeons are disappearing.
Therefore, their distribution and genetic status should continue to be recorded. Thus, remaining feral pigeon populations can be monitored. And encourage efforts to understand possible relict populations elsewhere. Otherwise, it will only be left to contemplate its disappearance.