One can often hear a whistling 
sound as these birds are winging 
their way overhead. This sound,
produced the air passing around 
the wings in flight, is used as an 
aid in the identification of this 
species.

During the mating season the courtship flight is also distinctive. The male will rise from its perch, flapping his wings so vigorously his wings hit as he flies upward at a sharp angle to a height of 100 feet or more; then, with motionless wings, he will sail in wide circles back to his perch. Such flights are intended to impress the female, who appears to show little interest in such antics.

Mourning doves are the most abundant dove in North America and the most widely hunted and harvested game bird.

In Gibraltar the term refers to the small minority who favour a 'deal' with Spain and are consequently very unpopular with the General Public.

GONHS is the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society who are tasked with Bird Control in Gibraltar. This does not extend to shooting Doves, however they do control the Gull population which is a bigger problem both by numbers and effect.

Any similarity between their web site and this one is purely co-incidental.

Jack Straw really cares about the future of Gibraltar and always tells the truth.

Peter Hain is a politician who should go far.

Tony Blair listens to public opinion and never distorts things with spin in the media.

The Cheque is in the post

Of Course I love you.

And I promise never to do that thing.

PALOMA CULL REPORT

INTRODUCTION

The yellow-breasted dove, Espania Esokwime, is considered a pest in Gibraltar. Although not recorded by Howard Irby in his Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar published in 1897, it had become numerous enough for the Rock Firm Veterans to commence culling activities in the late 1960s,

In July 2002 GAPL (Gibraltar Anti-Paloma League) was engaged by the Gibraltar Government Ministry for the Environment to discourage these pests.

The first few years resulted in some successful culling, but also in a great deal of learning, and insurance claims for boats. Several methods were tried with differing levels of success, with the birds quickly becoming aware of some of the methods and tending to avoid them.

A successful method to cull adult birds was required, as it seems that there are very few younger birds. The use of air horns and whistles was consequently introduced in July 2002, under survellance by the Royal Gibraltar Police special branch.

METHODS

Training in the use of air horns was undertaken, and five persons were included in a collective licence (no person is individually licenced to possess his own weapon). Following the training period, shouting became the main method of culling as from July 2002. The weapons have been used exclusively by members of the Paloma Cull Unit who, besides being trained in their use, are experienced in bird identification, so that there is no likelihood of any other species of bird being shouted at in error.

During the 2002 nesting season, the Unit specifically targeted the convent, and a number were spotted incidental to the shouting operation. However, the Unit did respond to call-outs to deal with nests in built-up areas, which were causing a nuisance to residents.

During the nesting season the Unit also attempted to cause disturbance at accessible military facilities in order to try to reduce nesting success. And as well as the Convent, shouting in the area of the dockyard and the Rooke base took place.

DISCUSSION

The results show a decrease year by year in the total numbers of birds.

It has also been noted that in areas where shouting is carried out regularly nesting has failed completely, with colonies in these sites reducing in size away from the shouting posts.

PUBLIC REACTION

Public reaction to the cull is varied. It includes frustration or even anger.

There has been some adverse comment regarding the alleged cruelty aspect of culling, culls in general, and shouting in particular. It is important to address this issue.

The members of the paloma cull unit have undergone training in the use of air horns. This has included training in how, when and where to shout. Thus residential areas are avoided as are times of day when there is likely to be much public. However, given Gibraltarís size, members of the public inevitably do come into contact with the Unit. These points of view have to be accepted as must be the fact that some will never approve of paloma culling, regardless of how it is carried out.

OTHER ACTIONS

The yellow-breasted paloma population in Spanish towns surrounding Gibraltar is increasing, with regular articles in the regionís press reflecting the increase particularly in pool nesting palomas.

It is well known also that many of the palomas that nest in the area (including Gibraltar) feed in the open rubbish dump in Sotogrande. Discussions are taking place between GAPL and the Sottogrande Council with a view to culling at the dump and to offering training opportunities in paloma culling techniques to the authorities in the towns in the area.

The dump is expected to be full by late in 2002. This could have several implications on the palomas in the area. It is possible that the population will crash, but in any case the birds will try to locate alternative places to live. An increase in movement into the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales, with all its resources, including a number of large reservoirs, is a strong possibility, as many have been advised to jump in a lake.

The Inquirer | GOHNS & Gulls | The American Method