Can anyone offer advice? I recently saw a rather disturbing sign on the back of a pigeon transporter: "Where have all the songbirds gone? Hawks eat them one by one..." seeming to assert that 'hawks' are responsible for the demise of the British songbird and the racing pigeon. It quotes the web address of the racing pigeon royal association. Now, I'm no expert but that seems a little contentious to say the least. The sign implicitly advocates some kind of action but of course fails to specify. Is the RSPB aware of this assertion? I'd be very interested to know what you think.
It's stupid people blaming predators. There's many associations to blame predatory birds for a decrease in prey, but a predator has evolved not to wipe out it's prey because otherwise it would die. Predators and prey have lived together for millons of years so the prey would have been wiped out if the predators were responsible for the decline.
Sorry for being quite 'strong' but it really upsets me to see the persecution of raptors fOr our selfish gains. And what upsets me more is people use the fact that certain species may increase in these areas due to lack of predators (and crash when the habitat can't support them but they don't tell you that) as evidence for predators causing a decline in prey, which is wrong- the predator keeps prey levels level, rather than causing a decrease as the BTO have proved.
I just wanted to get these facts out there before a full scale hawk vs songbird argument.
Racing pigeon enthusiasts have obvious reasons for disliking birds of prey - release a load of pigeons into the countryside and inevitably some will be taken by predators. Most pigeon racers accept that this is nature and accept the law of the land that protects all birds of prey, for very good reasons. However, there is an element that thinks lobbying for the right to kill raptors is a good idea, and the whole spurious songbirds argument is a fabrication that they use to gain wider support for their cause.
This 'kill everything that threatens our enjoyment' attitude, along with more and more efficient ways of doing the killing, is what led to the near or total elimination in Britain of many of our birds of prey and also predatory mammals like Otter and Pine Marten in the last century. Through strict protection most are now recovering, and we need to learn from our mistakes, rather than revisit this shameful episode in our history.
As Michael has explained, a predator doesn't eliminate its food supply, its numbers are controlled by the amount of food available. Any decline in prey species will cause a corresponding decline in predator numbers as more predators fail to survive and breed, and that's the way balance is maintained. Long-running bird population studies show that there is no evidence that native predators are harming songbird numbers - actually many songbird species are showing a long-term population increase.
Hi Mostyn. You're absolutely right to be concerned. Only two "interests" in the UK want to see birds of prey culled - game shooters and pigeon racers. There is, of course, no PR mileage in declaring these aims so a fairytale about impacts on songbird populations (complete with a bespoke lobby group masquerading as a "conservation body") has been concocted.
Fortunately most people aren't dim enough to be taken in.
The "legit" conservation bodies are very much aware of what is going on and exactly who is behind the disinformation. Thank you for spotting some and raising it on this forum.
Michael MThere's many associations to blame predatory birds for a decrease in prey, but a predator has evolved not to wipe out it's prey because otherwise it would die.
Unfortunately with Racing Pigeons the predator prey relationship is not that straightforward as the pigeon fancier is, in effect, releasing more food into the air every time he opens his loft. The same principle as to why red kites turn up in numbers at Gigrin Farm and there is evidence that hawks have learnt to hang around lofts.
That said it is clearly wrong to call for predator culls and work should be aimed at finding ways to reduce any perceived impact on pigeons as they return to the loft.
Exactly right, Bob, and another example of human actions mucking up the balance. That is also another reason why some song birds are doing well...as well as some other types of birds. Thinking about that successful list, it almost exclusively includes species that 1) humans are deliberately spending time and effort on introductions, protection, action plans etc 2) species that naturally adapt to all the extra humans in existence 3) species that inadvertently benefit from human actions via conifer plantations decades ago for example, or gravel pits, reservoirs etc.
Groups like raptors, for example, contain a lot of specialists. Specialists inevitably fit in to the 'natural balance' of predator/prey sustainability. What goes horribly wrong is when people confuse non-native predators as natural, when people ignore the fact the natural balance has long since been upset by human expansion and actions, when prey species are already under threat regardless of predator numbers (let alone increased numbers), and also possibly more controversially, when there are predatory species that have flexible tastes in what consists as a meal as food supply then doesn't act as a ceiling on numbers.
I obviously oppose any BoP cull or control of numbers as, like I said, they're specialists and part of what remains of a natural balance.
I've seen the same sign on the back of a van, I wanted to pull the driver over and explain things to him but I suspect it would have fallen on deaf ears. I can only agree with the sentiments already posted here.
Michael,Aiki,Bob,Robbo and JohnB have put the argument right on the nail here,everybody wants to get rid of raptors if they interfere with their interests.The arguments have been going on for years and no doubt will continue in the next generation.In over 50 years of watching the ups and downs of raptors in our local dales areas I think we have every argument under the sun for culling of birds and we have had some great discussions with keepers and farmers but have always agreed to disagree but have made some good contacts on the way.Sticking signs in car windows does not help anyones' cause even if people bother o read them.
Can't add any more to all the cogent statements made above - can just say I support them.
Seaman----while the odd farmer may dislike BOP in general they have no problem with them unless they are of the shooting brigade and many would be quite happy with them on their land.Obviously in general only the large Eagles bother any livestock and as far as I am aware of no BOP causes any damage to any crop.The sheep farmers I know worry more about the corvids than the Eagles.
Not sure that I was even hinting at that Sooty,just that they are probably not as enthusiastic as us,I still consider them among good drinking friends and get loads of info from them both keepers and farmers.I agree with the point about corvids when out walking my home patch this afternoon Carrion Crows were hanging around a couple of late lambing ewes that seemed to be having problems.Even with the farmer and his wife in the same field they were still very persistant,gave the old collie plenty of exercise though,she was going frantic at them.
Thank you for all your contributions. As the driver, who parks his truck near my house, is confident enough in his belief to proclaim it so unashamedly I doubt that rational argument would have any effect at all. But the twisted logic of it shocked me, I must admit.
I shall pursue the matter.
Of course, the Royal Pigeon Racing Association has declined to comment - so far. I wonder if the royal patrons of two such divergent bodies as the RSPB & RPRA feel any sense of conflict, paradox or irony in itheir positions Not much hope there, I would guess, given at least the senior Royals' love of hunten, shooten and fishen?
Can such a public advocacy of the killing of raptors - for surely there can't be any other interpretation - be legal?
I think this "campaign"has been running for a long time and we can only hope it is mainly hot air.It is very hard to catch anyone committing crimes against wildlife by the very nature of their prefered habitat
Hiding behind some feux environmental cause to achieve their own agenda is what really annoys me. Luckily I think the general public have little interest in the opinions of such a minority sector.
Perhaps you should sport a poster showing the other (more accurate) side of the argument and park it next to his truck.
Perhaps put a sign saying Bye Bye to the pigeons who don't make the grade.
I know most fanciers accept the odd one being taken naturally