The feral pigeon (Columba livia) carries with it a reputation that runs counter to conservation: it is feral, exotic and invasive and even considered down right filthy. But upon closer inspection, the pigeon could be a subject worthy of study for both ecological and social science purposes and highlight the importance of urban species in ecology. This insight on pigeons occurred during an urban ecology study that focused on habitat and population dynamics of the birds and is also supported through an extensive literature review. As a nearly ubiquitous species, we discuss how important pigeons are as a prey-base for numerous raptors and underscore our position by highlighting several studies on the biological uptake of environmental contaminants that may have benefited from including the pigeon as part of the research. We further our stance on the importance of pigeons in urban ecology by highlighting additional concerns such as zoonotic disease and climate change. We expand our case by turning to the social construction of nature, the importance of public participation in conservation. Once again, the ubiquitous presence of pigeons lends itself well to citizen science in ecology and conservation, especially to show trends across a range of geographic locations. In short, this commentary strives to reconceptualize the feral pigeon, promoting the bird as a valuable asset to ecological and social research in ways that raise awareness for conservation concerns and advance our scientific thinking.
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Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca
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