Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Provide supplementary food for pigeons to increase adult survival

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • A study of a recently-released pink pigeon Nesoenas mayeri population on Mauritius found that fewer than half the birds used supplementary food, and appeared to survive without it.
  • However, a later study of the population found that almost all birds were recorded using supplementary feeders.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A study in mixed forests on Mauritius between July 1987 and June 1992 (Jones et al. 1992) found that, of 42 captive-bred pink pigeons Nesoenas mayeri (formerly Columba mayeri) released, 16 visited feeders and spent an average of 20.5 mins/day feeding. However, when food provision stopped, only two birds were seen visiting the feeder, suggesting that they could survive without it. Non-native birds also used the feeder but they did not exclude pigeons. Food consisted of mixture of maize, wheat, canary seed, millet, lentils, and occasionally peas and other seeds provided from a hopper outside the release aviary and was provided from June until December 1987. The amount provided was then reduced and the finally stopped, until more pigeons were released in June 1988 and continued until at least 1992. This study is also discussed in ‘Use captive breeding to increase or maintain populations’, ‘Release captive bred individuals’, ‘Provide supplementary food after release’ and ‘Predator control on islands’.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A study of restored pink pigeon Nesoenas mayeri (formerly Columba mayeri) populations in two forest sites on Mauritius, in April to June 2005 (Edmunds et al. 2008) found that 99% of the 195 birds studied visited supplementary feeders. More birds appeared to use feeders outside rather than inside release aviaries, although this was not tested statistically. Younger birds used the feeders more frequently older birds but there was no difference in use between nesting and non-nesting birds and feeding stations did not appear to influence the position of breeding territories. Supplementary food consisted of wheat provided from hoppers, protected from rats by being placed on platforms with plastic sheeting around the supporting post.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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