White-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae is endemic to the Canary Islands (Spain), where it is found on La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and El Hierro (although breeding on the latter has not been confirmed). It is currently listed as Endangered under criterion B1 on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed it was considered to have a small range (<2,500 km2), within which habitat extent and quality were thought to be declining.
Illegal hunting, poisoning, and predation by rats and cats remain important threats in some areas, with rat predation thought to have the most significant impact on this ground-nesting species (Martín et al. 2001). However, data collated in 2010 for a review of the EU Species Action Plan (BirdLife International 2010) show that its Area of Occupancy (and presumably its population) has increased in the last 20 years. It is now suspected to be relatively common in many places, especially on La Palma.
The distribution of C. junoniae was previously believed to be closely linked to that of laurel forests, but the species has since been found to have a wider habitat tolerance, including pine and thermophile forest. Thinning of pine plantations has made them more suitable for the species, and abandonment of agriculture in some areas has led to the regrowth of natural vegetation. There has also been a major effort on Tenerife to eradicate Monterey pine and replant areas with native species, which are more suitable.
If the overall extent and quality of habitat are no longer declining, the species’s global status ought to be revised to either Near Threatened (approaching the threshold for criterion B1a+b(iii) because of small range, few locations and until recently declining quality and extent of habitat) or Least Concern. Comments on this proposal and any data that could inform the outcome are welcome.
BirdLife International (2010) Species Action Plan Implementation Report: White-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae. http://www.birdlifeforums.org/WebX/.2cba721e
Martín, A., Hernández, M. A., Lorenzo, J. A., Nogales, M., & González, C. (2001) Las Palomas endémicas de Canarias. Conserjería de Medio Ambiente y SEO/BirdLife.