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So do pigeons migrate in the winter?


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Another poster here from Devon has noticed large flocks flying south. I am about 35 miles from the southern coastline and every morning between 7 and 9am, there is a constant stream of birds flying directly overhead and south. I have counted upwards of 50 at a time, with some groups clearly 10 times that amount flying over at 5 minute intervals. They never seem to do a return trip, so I'm guessing they are headed for france!!

Anyone else have some views?

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I quote from the ST article "Here in the UK, our woodie is largely sedentary; normally travelling a radius of 20 or so miles from its place of fledging. So, if that’s true, where do they go? I believe a fair percentage move to urban areas during winter to feed on the numerous non-native species of trees and shrubs that provide seeds and berries during the colder parts of the year. Another attraction is food offered from bird tables. A staggering £300million is spent annually on bird feed. "

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I quote from the ST article "Here in the UK, our woodie is largely sedentary; normally travelling a radius of 20 or so miles from its place of fledging. So, if that's true, where do they go? I believe a fair percentage move to urban areas during winter to feed on the numerous non-native species of trees and shrubs that provide seeds and berries during the colder parts of the year. Another attraction is food offered from bird tables. A staggering £300million is spent annually on bird feed. "

 

About right.....There is a flight line of birds that comes out of a town local to me....

Quite a few never return :whistling:

 

TEH

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I have heard that, like woodcock - there are 3 populations

1. a resident breeding population which may move south in winter but stay in the country.

2. a southern continental migratory population which comes and goes to france etc, summer and winter and

3 a Scandinavian/north european population which winters over here when it gets v.cold in their home territory.

This seems logical.

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Quoted from a nature reserve in devon,

 

'Autumn migration remained in full swing but in lower numbers however the reduced quantity was more than made up by the quality of birds around the site. Lapwing. Overhead there were 3845 Wood Pigeon, 362 Jackdaw, 65+ Starling, just 23 Chaffinch, 20 Siskin, 19 Stock Dove, 19 Skylark, nine Rook, five Bullfinch, four Lesser Redpoll, three Swallow and two Brambling, although the highlight was a singe Hawfinch west around 10.30am.'

 

Defo migrate!

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They migrate from the north down through the midlands to the south . When I spend time on the Greek mainland I always go to local gun shop for a natter and a look at his pictures of woodies he has shot during the winter . I get my own back with a few of my pictures. When Scotland has wet cold weather we see an increase in birds in the midlands

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Offically acorrding to DEFRA and the BTO wood pigeons do not migrate. But I have seen thousands comming in off the sea some years from Europe and when you read the bird observatory reports there are many records of large scale arrivals. However it does not happen every year and I suspect rather than a regular migration its more a dispersil from the North Of England and Europe as the birds roam around looking for food.

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Our syndicate shoot is on the north-east coast of Ireland, facing Scotland. I have saw flocks of pigeons coming in over the sea during shoot days before. We get a big influx of birds over the winter when the cold weather starts.

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I think the problem is that Defra and the BTO do not ring enough wood pigeons in winter to know if any come from Europe. There are about 1000 pigeons ringed in the UK every year. Out of these about 500 are ringed as youngsters in the nest. Wood pigeons are very hard to catch in mist nets and the most likely period is when they are hunting in bushes for a nest site , again in summer. So very few are ever caught and ringed in winter, Bearing in mind that probably of those that are ringed in winter at least half are likely to be resident birds so in reality only a handful of potential migrants are ever likely to be caught. As as probably only 5% - 10% of all ringed wood pigeons are ever heard of again the number of European wood pigeons to be recovered is going to be very small.

 

Of course they could be caught in winter using baited areas and rocket nets , but as yet nobody seems to have tried it. Which considering the dammage pigeons do it is surprising that DEFRA has not funded such a project.

Edited by anser2
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Our syndicate shoot is on the north-east coast of Ireland, facing Scotland. I have saw flocks of pigeons coming in over the sea during shoot days before. We get a big influx of birds over the winter when the cold weather starts.

 

In a similar way to the migrating wildfowl in North America, it is a common belief in N. Ireland that the migratory birds are a smaller species. A few years ago on a February roost shoot I shot a large resident bird and a smaller "Scottish" (or Scandanvian) bird. I took a picture of them at the time and after a fair bit of digging I found it. Sadly the picture does not show the difference as clearly as I remembered it when I held the birds, but I hope you can see the right hand bird is smaller and thinner than the left hand one.

 

Sorry the picture isnt great but the fact that I took a photo of it at all hopefully shows the difference was more marked than the photo shows.

 

15012011610.jpg

Edited by Big Al
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Something to bear in mind here is there is a size difference between male and female wood pigeons. The females being about 10% smaller. next time you have access to tame wood pigeons ( in a city park perhaps ) and they are courting just watch them and the males become obvious by their cooing , but also see how much larger they are to the bird they are trying to woo.

Edited by anser2
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Thanks but the difference is a hell of a lot more than 10%.

 

I dont live in a city - the only pigeon I handle are the ones I shoot. I had another roost shoot this evening - all the pigeon were migratory. No large birds at all.

 

As I said, the photo doesnt do them justice but the pigeons I shot tonight are close to half the weight of the ones I shot last weekend.

 

Sorry Anser2 but I stick to my original theory - and I am not alone. The annual Scottish (but probably Scandanavian) pigeon migration is looked forward to here by pigeon shooters as the birds are less wary than the local, larger birds.

Edited by Big Al
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  • 10 months later...

Hi,I live near to Cardiff and see the migration overhead every year.timing is usually last week of October to first week of November,with 54,000 counted in 2012(local bird forum).usual flocks number from 20 to 1000 with larger flocks so high that they appear as specks(they fly much lower in poor weather,sometimes just overhead)and travel in long strings at first light for only around two and a half hours.they are spread from the coast to approx 4miles inland.did some research and seems they fly from Scandinavia across to and down Britain,crossing over the channel into france and through the Pyrenees were they are hunted as they pass low(footage on you tube).i have asked many local shooters and farmers if they have noticed migration and they are oblivious to it!

I have followed them for last 5years and look forward every year see how patterns change with weather,timing.i don't use this forum much but would be interested to hear if more people have knowledge of why flight stops after few hours and where they feed.

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Yes I believe they do. Seen pigeon making land in Norfolk and talking to the French that are heading to our shores to shoot em they hit em when there passing off high stool type arrangements. "Passing pigeon" they call it.

 

So I am of the opinion that yes they migrate.

 

Karpman

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looking at all the previous posts it just goes to show what an amazing bird the woodpigeon is....i think there is truth in all the post replies......but if you read the post from start to finish...the conclusion that i come to is that the pigeon considers its home to be uk and europe.....after all we were conected at one time before the northsea opened up the channel.....the birds are strong and used to flying long distances at a steady 50-60mph...which is its story of success, it is able to react quickly to weather conditions....there is a deffinate resident population everywhere, but when the weather dictates feeding then they start to move about......and we all know how fickle the weather can be , one of my big beefs on the weather forcast is they hardly ever show the position of the jetstream, as this has the biggest influence on the weather we have, rather than looking at what is happening locally within the uk and our own patches we should be looking at the bigger uk-europe picture....as that area is the pigeons backyard....also the changing crop patterns and the race for rape.........im fairly sure that just because ive shot so few birds this year is not because the have been all shot........rather they are not here ! (at the moment)

 

 

this conumdrum will run and run and run.....and i for one will never be able to give a definative answer...but i do look forward to reading other peoples reasoned explainations...keep them coming

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