I was staying on a camp site at Freshwater East, Pembrokeshire, in early June this year.
The Ash trees were just coming into leaf and those around us had most of the new growth eaten off. The damage was caused by wood pigeons, I watched them eating the new shoots.
I have never seen this behaviour before and I've spent a lot of time with Ash trees and pigeons.
Is this behaviour common anywhere else?
Woodpigeons eat a wide variety of plant material not just seeds. Buds, new leaves and shoots are definitely on the menu and they will eat quite a lot. Most of the trees regenerate quickly though so this damage shouldn't be that obvious in a few weeks time.
Warden Intern at Otmoor.
In reply to IanH:
A friend has a small orchard of some rarer varieties of fruit trees and the weight of Wood Pigeons on the thin branches has broken some off,luckily he is also a keen birder so they are quite safe even if they do some damage.
Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can
In reply to Seaman:
I believe they are particularly fond of the new growth on Beech trees.
In reply to Stephen Pill:
Ash Dieback was identified as early as February 2012, this thread started July 2012..
I think before we blame the pigeons for damage, we first need to look at getting our own house in order.
For too long man has just gone on aimlessly and creating problems to which nature has had to adapt to.
Whether you like it or not, pigeons are a part of nature, manicured gardens (always nice to view) and endless urban sprawl is not, and they have learned to adapt quite well to the situations we leave them in, and in turn, its biting human society back.
We can't blame to poor pigeon for ash dieback, for among other possibile transmission sources, it is predominantly carried on the wind.
Flickr Peak Rambler
Pigeons, especially Wood Pigeons, seem to be able to adapt to most things that the countryside throws at them. When I was a teenager farmers would organise a Pigeon shoot or two as soon as the crops were showing through. Everyone in the village who could legally and safely use a shotgun was invited along to help keep the numbers down, Great for us youngsters and pigeon pie was on many a menu for a while. While this would not be tolerated nowadays it did seem to keep the numbers down for a while but the beggars are fast breeders. Our good old town/feral pigeon thrives very well on what we litter our streets with, where do we lay the blame for that ? Blaming pigeons for Ash Die Back is maybe pushing things a bit far.
In reply to A lifer:
We probably have misread your initial reply, particularly as we do see quite a few posts where people are genuinely not converse with nature.
Regarding your last para, I have no idea whether pigeon damage is being considered, though someone somewhere may have the answer to that.
As already mentioned, pigeons do have this incredible knack of adapting to any situation they inhabit, not helped by human habitations fuelling their adaptation. As you will be aware, pigeons as with any bird or animal, will seek out what they can to make the nest/den as cosy and habitable as possible for rearing the young, and if that means collecting leaves from any tree, then that is what they will do.
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