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Madeira Laurel-pigeon Columba trocaz
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Least Concern as, thanks to successful conservation efforts, it no longer approaches the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. Although it has a very small range and small population, the species is now increasing in numbers.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

38-40 cm. Dark grey and purple pigeon. Adult has blue-grey head and foreneck, grey glossed green sides of neck with bold patch of silver-tipped feathers. Slate grey scapulars and wing-coverts and black-brown flight feathers. Blue-grey back and rump. Reddish-purple breast and rest of underparts blue-grey. Slate black tail with broad, pale grey subterminal band. Red bill, pale yellow eye and red orbital ring. Red legs. Juvenile is duller and browner lacking glossed plumage. Voice Rhythmic, sonorous oo coo coo coo-coo.

Distribution and population
Columba trocaz is endemic to Madeira and formerly the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, Portugal. It is found predominantly on the island's mountainous northern slopes, but can also be seen on a few isolated laurel forest pockets in the south. It was very abundant in the early years of human colonisation, but subsequently declined dramatically to c.2,700 birds in 1986 (Oliveira et al. 1999). However, the population recovered rapidly soon after the ban on hunting in 1986. There are now between 8,500 and 10,000 individuals (Oliveira et al. 2007, BirdLife International 2010, P. Sepúlveda in litt. 2011) in approximately 160 km2 of suitable habitat (P. Oliveira in litt. 1999, Oliveira et al. 1999). The species is now widespread throughout all areas of laurel forest, and has reoccupied many parts of its former range that it had previously deserted (Madeira National Park Service in litt. 2010).

Population justification
The population is currently estimated to number between 8,500 and 10,000 individuals (P. Sepúlveda in litt. 2011), roughly equivalent to 5,700-6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population recovered rapidly following a ban on hunting in 1986. It has increased from an estimated low of 2,700 individuals to between 8,500 and 10,000 individuals today, although there is some fluctuation (Oliveira et al. 2007, Barov and Derhé 2011).

The species is confined to laurel forest, largely below 850 m (Oliveira et al. 1999). There is strong evidence that it is highly mobile between different areas at different times of year (Oliveira et al. 2006). It nests in trees in laurel forest, occasionally on the ground or in cavities in cliffs. Normally only one egg is laid. The species is largely frugivorous, although leaves and flowers are also well represented in its diet: at least 33 different species are taken (Oliveira et al. 2002). Birds may also feed on agricultural land (Marrero et al. 2004, Oliveira et al. 2006).

Extinction on Porto Santo and historical declines on Madeira were directly related to forest destruction for wood, agriculture, grazing and human settlements. Regeneration and expansion of the forest is now ensured with the removal of livestock from the forest. This species's unpopularity, as a result of its use of agricultural areas, has a negative influence on conservation and management actions. Hunting and poisoning, as a result of the damage done to crops, continue illegally in a few well-defined areas, especially on agricultural land, and in response to farmers' protests, the regional government authorised limited culling of the species on one occasion in 2004 (Nagy and Crockford 2004). Nest predation by black rat Rattus rattus is likely to be a factor limiting reproduction.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected and hunting was banned in 1986. Madeira Natural Park has a management plan, and an action plan for the species was published in 1996. All key sites are now protected and habitat restoration has expanded the area of laurel forest (Barov and Derhé 2011). Farmers suffering crop damage are provided with free bird-scaring devices, and several government control programmes have been implemented, reducing levels of illegal hunting and poisoning (Barov and Derhé 2011). Work has been undertaken to remove cattle from some areas and control invasive species in laurel forest, as well as measures to reduce the incidence of fire (Barov and Derhé 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Research and monitoring should be continued. Illegal hunting should be controlled or prevented. An education campaign may overcome the species's unpopularity. Identify and protect new areas of laurel forest. Promote the use of bird scarers to reduce agricultural damage.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Barov, B and Derhé, M. A. 2011. Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz species action plan implementation review. In: Barov, B and Derhé, M. A. (eds), Review of The Implementation Of Species Action Plans for Threatened Birds in the European Union 2004-2010. Final report. BirdLife International For the European Commission.

Marrero, P.; Oliveira, P.; Nogales, M. 2004. Diet of the endemic Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz in agricultural and forest areas: implications for conservation. Bird Conservation International 14: 165-172.

Nagy, S.; Crockford, N. 2004. Implementation in the European Union of species action plans for 23 of Europe's most threatened birds. BirdLife International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Oliveira, P.; Heredia, B. 1996. Action plan for Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz). In: Heredia, B.; Rose, L.; Painter, M. (ed.), Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans, pp. 303-310. Council of Europe and BirdLife International, Strasbourg.

Oliveira, P.; Jones, M.; Caires, D.; Menezes, D. 1999. Population trends and status of the Madiera Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz. Bird Conservation International 9: 387-395.

Oliveira, P.; Marrero, P.; Nogales, M. 2002. Diet of the endemic Madeira Laurel Pigeon and fruit resource availability: a study using microhistological analyses. Condor 104: 811-822.

Oliveira, P.; Menezes, D.; Jones, M.; Nogales, M. 2006. The influence of fruit abundance on the use of forest and cultivated field habitats by the endemic Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 130: 538-548.

Oliveira, P.; Menezes, D.; Sepulveda, P. 2007. Population trends of the Madeira laurel pigeon between 1986 and 2006.

Further web sources of information
Action Plan

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Peet, N., Ekstrom, J., Bird, J., Taylor, J.

Oliveira, P., Menezes, D., Sepúlveda, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Columba trocaz. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author Heineken, 1829
Population size 5700-6700 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 160 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment