I’m pleased to say I now have data from over 500 individual pigeons from various locations throughout the UK. Thanks to everyone who kindly submitted details of their local flock.

The data, shown below, has confirmed research that has been conducted previously but leaves many unanswered questions. It also shows how interesting feral pigeons are to study.

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Of the 503 birds, 58.96% show the checker plumage type whilst 25.24% show the wild type or ‘blue bar’ plumage.

There are many theories as to why this may be the case, for example, it has been found that checker birds have an extended breeding season over the wild type birds, as they do not show the gonadal regression found in the blue bar birds. Gonadal regression in the winter months has been found to be linked to the ability to store fat for surviving in times of food shortage and cold weather.  Such an ability would be essential for wild rock doves with seasonal variation in nutrient availability. However, feral pigeons are far less subject to fluctuation in food availability and therefore, gonadal regression may be less of an advantage.

Interestingly, it has been found that city living blue bar birds have higher lead and cadmium levels than checker birds – despite the banning of leaded petrol, cadmium is readily found in car tyres and is deposited on roads and curb sides. Such contamination may possible effect the breeding success and health of blue bar individuals.

Equally, female mate choice may be playing a part, which is something I hope to research in the near future.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped… please keep those results coming in. I’ll also need more help in the near future with some more in depth pigeon spotting.

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