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THE IMPACT OF HEDGES AND FARM WOODLANDS ON WOODPIGEON (COLUMBA-PALUMBUS) NEST DENSITIES

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

The creation of new woodlands on farms is likely to increase the local population of a number of pest species (e.g. rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus; grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis) including the woodpigeon (Columba palumbus). Data on the numbers of woodpigeon nests were gathered annually between 1965 and 1989 from 71 woods and hedgerows in Lincolnshire, UK. Information on the size, shape and tree composition of the sites was also obtained. Nest density was related to both the size and shape of the site. Hedgerows had a significantly higher nest density (mean +/- SE 6.95 +/- 0.78 nests ha-1) than woods (2.07 +/- 0.38 nests ha-1). There was a significant negative correlation between nest density and area of the wood, and a significant positive correlation between nest density and the proportion of edge habitat within the wood (i.e. that within 20 m of the boundary). Hawthorn seemed to be a preferred tree for nesting, but none of the major tree species currently being planted under Farm Woodland schemes in the UK had any significant effect upon nest density. If minimising the increase in woodpigeon nest sites is the primary concern, then trees should be planted to extend existing woods wherever possible, rather than to create new copses and shelter belts.

Author(s): INGLIS, IR; WRIGHT, E; LILL, J

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 1994

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