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A highly plausible theory

Pigeon addict

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6 hours ago, The Sipe-ist said:

I think judging pigeon numbers is a very hard thing to do because we are only able to assess numbers when they are congregated on fields. As others have already said pigeons haven't fed on rape much this year at all, or last year for that matter. I am a farm manager and dead keen pigeon shooter so watch for pigeon activity constantly.

This is my best guess as to what is happening. People have replied to this thread correctly stating that the pigeons disappear from the fields when there is a heavy acorn or beech mast harvest and have also said the birds have been on ivy berries as well. I totally agree, and would go further to say maybe in a drought year or more importantly a year with a lot of sunlight the ivy berries, that in most years pigeons will only feed on when other food sources are not readily available, are packed with protein and instead of being a fall-back food become the most attractive to them as their primary food source.

Further more, if your local population is thinly spread over the vast number of trees/hedge rows that support ivy then you do not notice the total numbers easily. I know when I have launched scaring rockets over rape fields to move on a small gathering of pigeons thousands appear in the sky from all around.

When the ivy berries are exhausted I predict you will see thousands of birds from apparently nowhere.

It is just my opinion and probably wrong and that wouldn't be the first time.


That’s a really interesting point and I have to agree with your perspective. What I can’t understand is why most roosting woods are a lot quieter. You’d think that even though birds are spread far and wide, they’d still use their usual roosting woods.

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We tend to hear the same statement every year by forum members , Is there a shortage of Pigeons this year ? , well I can only give you my observations in my small area of the county , I have very rarely travelled more than 15 miles for my pigeon shooting so I can't vouch for furthur afield even in my county of Norfolk , I have kept a rough old diary for the number of pigeons shot in a year from January through till December for 40 plus years , in the very early days it was a learning process so the numbers were fairly low , then you start getting the hang of things and the numbers started to increase , rape wasn't about them and the first birds shot over decoys were normally on the Pea drilling , around our way it was around the first week in March , this was quickly followed by the Spring barley and wheat drilling , numbers on the Spring drillings were far bigger than they are now , a three figure bag wasn't a every day event but you easily got one or two most years , the Peas were shot over on every stage of growth and good numbers on the Pea stubble , when the Peas finished the barley was getting to the milky stage and good numbers were had when it got blown about , then the same on the Wheat which followed the barley , harvest started around the third week of July and the stubble shooting began, this carried on till well into September , we also had Beans that were the last to be combined .

Number wise we always got into four figures every year and we still had to work to pay the bills , now working for a living is way behind me and finding time is no longer a problem and yet number wise I recon we are under half of what we once shot and if anything we might go on more days , although I no longer stay all day and know when to pack up instead of waiting for that very last pigeon , so I would say we have got less pigeons now than we did in the past , but that is not to say there are less pigeons overall in the U K , with more precise Spring drilling , shorter stems on the grain crops which reduce the laid areas, and the big acreage of rape grown have  changed the way how we once shot good numbers of pigeons .

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Apparently, with regard to the woodpigeon nothing happened between Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) and AD 1939. We then wised up which promptly all went to pot with their lifestyle and feeding habits due to rape which I know nothing about. If this crop is now in decline, 'The Woodpigeon' by RK Murton may well be once again worth a read.

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