Letter: Britain's invasion by the woodpigeon

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Sir: We read with interest last Saturday's article discussing the 'over-fed and over-sexed' woodpigeons in Britain. Duff Hart-Davis's suggestion that woodpigeon numbers have recently increased dramatically is supported by detailed information collected by members of the British Trust for Ornithology.

The BTO has recently examined population changes among some 'pest species', including the woodpigeon, and our research has shown a five-fold increase in woodpigeon numbers over the last 20 years. Interestingly, the geographical range of the bird has changed little over the same period.

Woodpigeon numbers have increased greatly but the problems of counting their populations are considerable. For example, they may breed all the year round, often nest in dense colonies and can occur in dense aggregations at any season.

Future research might usefully focus on the population dynamics of the woodpigeon and on its use of modern farmland landscapes. Ringing of British birds shows that few woodpigeons either leave or enter Britain in the winter. Solutions to the problem will need to be based on a sound understanding of their ecology to be effective in the long term.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD D. GREGORY

British Trust for Ornithology

Thetford, Norfolk

13 April

(Photograph omitted)

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