Columba trocaz


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Columba trocaz
Species Authority: Heineken, 1829
Common Name(s):
English Madeira Laurel-pigeon, Long-toed Pigeon, Trocaz Pigeon

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Sepúlveda, P., Menezes, D. & Oliveira, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Capper, D., Peet, N., Ekstrom, J., Bird, J., Taylor, J.
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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: 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).
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: 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.
For further information about this species, see 22690112_columba_trocaz.pdf.
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Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: 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).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 [top]

Conservation Actions: 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.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Columba trocaz. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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