Cabildo de Tenerife

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Consultas públicas

Estudio y seguimiento de la evolución de las poblaciones de distintas especies en Tenerife:

Consult the map of training camps, to view all possible locations and periods when they are available for use.

Acquire information on regulations governingthe opening of a training camp.

 Imagen de una Perdiz Moruna

Characteristics

Quail once thrived in Tenerife, when cereal and pulse crops covered most of the land. Quails are migrating birds, although the island has a small resident population. The number of quail hunters has dwindled, owing to urbanization of the land and the disappearance of grass crops. They are expert hunters, however, and self-regulate their limited opportunities prudently.

Quail measure 18 centimetres and weigh around 100 grams. Their plumage is brown and ochre with dark streaks. Mature males have a dark line at the throat and a russet coloured chest. Mature females, by contrast, have a cream coloured throat with no dark feathers and a spotted chest. Chicks have the same plumage as the females.

Quails are hard to spot thanks to their mimetic plumage and their habit of keeping remarkably still. It is not easy to flush them so they can be observed, and therefore they are rarely seen. The striking call of the males makes them easier to detect in the mating season.

Ecology

The best habitats for this species are grass crops when the kernels are forming, so they are ephemeral and last only a few days. These habitats are 200 to 1,200 metres above sea level and quail occupy them as the grasses develop and ripen. Tenerife is on quail's spring migration route, but we ignore whether they follow an autumn route when they return to Africa. Nor do we know whether quail travel from one island to another within the Canary Islands archipelago.

Quail do not move during the day, unless they are busy mating or caring for their chicks. Their activity and movement take place at twilight (at dawn and dusk), and they only fly at night.

Quail feed on small seeds, which they can consume in vast quantities in one day; medium-sized seeds, such as wheat; and even large seeds, like corn. They consume invertebrates voraciously in spring and summer, including snails, caterpillars, ants, spiders and grasshoppers. Quail are the prey of many reptile, bird and mammal predators. Rats are their biggest threat in Tenerife, because cereal-growing habitats are full of barnyards, buildings, storage places, drains and sewage systems where rats live. Rats prey on quail nests, chicks and adult quail. Released feral cats are another serious enemy of quail.

Social organisation and reproduction

Quail form small groups of three to four individuals to move about and explore a territory. Groups of males are the first to arrive in new areas in search of the best habitats for reproduction. The females arrive a few days later. The females choose the males they want to mate with, and they incubate the eggs and raise the chicks on their own. They can lay four to twelve eggs, but most common number is eight.

The chicks weight five to seven grams in the first days of life and are highly sensitive to any disturbance or attack. Most of them die while young. We find that sedentary Tenerife quail live longer than migrating quail. Habitats with irrigation, vegetable patches and summer crops permit quail to extend their reproductive period and increase the number of times they lay eggs in a single year.

Hunting management

Certain hunters and nature lovers have formed a group in Tenerife that works scientifically to protect, improve and make better use of the species. The group is recognised by the Council of Tenerife, the government of the Canary Islands, the Hunting Federation and the Consortium for the Controlled Hunting Zone. The group is carrying out a quail banding campaign to learn more about the species' movements, longevity, mortality, density and habitat use. They comb the island meticulously to find areas that still have a little bit of habitat that quail can use. The group completes the data on sample envelopes and collects biological samples to study the demography and characteristics of the quail populations. The quail team are exporting their methods and expanding to other islands in the archipelago. Similar efforts are now under way on the islands of El Hierro and Las Palmas, after several years of development in Tenerife.

Remember:

  • Mating season: April
  • Reproduction and breeding: May, June and July
  • Immigration: Early March to June
  • Emigration: August, September and October
 Imagen de una t rtola

Characteristics

urtle doves are a small, migratory summer Columbidae, so they only stay in Tenerife in spring and summer. They arrive on the Island in mid-March and most return to the African continent in September. They measure around 27 centimetres and weigh 150 grammes. The upper part of the plumage is brown and orangey coloured, and the chest is pinkish. They have a black open collar (three lines)  with white stripes on either side of the neck. The tail is slate grey ending in a strip of white. Their profile is graceful and their flight powerful and swift. They look for seeds in open spaces and choose copses for resting, roosting and shelter.

Ecology

Shunning urbanised areas, they choose agrarian habitats, preferably fruit crops and open pastures where they can find shelter and food. The best habitats for turtle doves are areas of land where a patchwork pattern of copses alternates with cereal crops, and sunflowers and rapeseed grown for industrial purposes. The habitat gains in quality if fruit trees grow along the edges of fields. Habitats with tall bushes (taller than 1.5 m) are excellent if they have barren patches with thistles.

Turtle doves eat all sorts of different seeds and small to medium size grain. They do not hesitate to travel long distances to find food in the best places (they need open ground), to drink or to find the right perch.

Social organisation and reproduction

Turtle doves arrive in small groups, and subsequently form pairs. Chicks integrate into the bands that gather in the areas that afford food and shelter. That is how they start gathering into bands for migration. Migratory bands look for halfway stations areas where they can rest and feed before continuing their migratory journey. They lay eggs twice a year from May to June in a rudimentary nest.

They lay two eggs that both parents incubate for around 14 days. Then the parents feed their young for 18 days. Gathering into bands is essential for finding the best sources of food, water, places to roost and shelter. This strategy enables them to diminish the impact of predators. They emigrate from September to October, after the reproduction season, to spend the winter on the African continent.

The turtle dove population has diminished at an alarming rate in recent decades. Certain groups of ecologists and hunters have requested a moratorium on turtle dove hunting. Studies conducted in Tenerife have provided evidence of reproductive failure in transition (ecotone) areas, possibly owing to the impact of predation by rats and cats.

Hunting management

There are plans to constitute a hunting association for the conservation and management of common turtle doves. Currently there is no data on their use for hunting purposes.

 Imagen de una paloma Brava

Characteristics

Rock pigeons are sedentary birds and can be either domestic or wild. Domestic pigeons have grown wild in Tenerife and are associated with buildings, bridges and other structures. The island also has many culturally rooted associations of pigeon lovers who carry out many different activities with these birds.

Rock pigeons are in a critical situation because little is known of the status of their populations. They are also affected by feral pigeons that are in a wild state after escaping from domestication. Wild rock pigeons measure 33 centimetres. They are slate grey with green and pinkish iridescent throat feathers and white rumps.

The domestic varieties exist in many different sizes and plumage colours. Domestic pigeons are now considered a plague on Tenerife Island. Amateur pigeon lovers are in the habit of banding and painting their birds in different colours.

Ecology

The best habitats for wild rock pigeons on Tenerife Island are found in the ravines in the south and west. They can be observed at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2,000 metres above sea level.

Domestic pigeons are frequent everywhere on the island, and mostly in crowed places, cities and towns, hotel and tourist complexes, beaches, semi-extensive livestock farms, breakwaters, bridges and other structures, and abandoned buildings.  They make the best of any facility with open spaces where they can find shelter and look for food, particularly farms with livestock, farmyards, city squares, vegetable gardens, warehouses, and agriculture and livestock facilities. Morevover, domestic pigeons colonise the nature areas where wild pigeons live, including crags, cliffs and natural rock walls.

Rock pigeons are frugivorous, feeding on seeds, grain, nuts and dried fruit, and tender shoots. Domestic pigeons are capable of eating all the food humans waste, from breadcrumbs to pieces of meat and fish. Pigeons can cover long distances in search of food. They gather into flocks and fly in straight lines to the places where they can roost and find food and water. Big flocks attract more flocks, and this gregarious behaviour means that several thousands of specimens may be concentrated around sources of food. Pigeons' facility for visual communication means that flocks of pigeons can attack any one spot on the island in a matter of hours. Sheer numbers and such gregarious behaviour are what make pigeons a plague.

Social organisation and reproduction

Rock pigeons form colonies. Their social nature is noticeable both in the places where they nest and where they eat, drink and roost. That is one reason why it is difficult to assess the current status of wild pigeons. There have been remarkably few observations on their reproductive biology to date. March to August is considered the season for mating, reproducing and raising the squabs (baby pigeons), but with the domestic variety it may continue year round. Rock pigeons make their nests in hollows, caves, bends, cliff ledges and ravine walls, whereas the domestic variety takes advantage of similar spaces on the walls of buildings and other structures.

Rock pigeons normally lay eggs two or three times a year, and domestic pigeons up to five times. They lay two white eggs at a time. Male and female pigeons incubate the eggs. Squabs leave the nest 25 days after hatching. Young pigeons join pigeon flocks and rapidly learn where to find the best places to feed, drink, roost and reproduce. Pigeons can be extremely long-lived. They may live to be more than 20 years old and even reach 35, so they accumulate considerable experience and have excellent memories.

Hunting management

They are hunted from a fixed waiting position, although hunters also shoot at them when they fly overhead. Fixed locations for hunting pigeons have not yet been identified or officially recognised. They need to be catalogued for human safety and to regulate hunting. It is convenient to protect wild pigeons and concentrate on hunting the domestic variety. There is no limit to the number of domestic pigeons that may be captured during the hunting season, owing to their abundance and status as a plague.

Hunting from a fixed location has several inconveniences that should be resolved in the near future.

  • The method makes it possible to take many shots and lead shot can cause contamination.
  • Until an alternative to lead shot is available, the recommendations are to use 28-30 gramme cartridges, make sure to aim well and not shoot at a distance of more than 40 metres. These measures will increase the number of trophies, for pigeons have good memories and quickly learn where hunters are positioned. Failed shots are a good way to help pigeons identify where the risk is coming from.
  • It is essential to remove the cartridge shells from the fixed location after a day of hunting.
  • Fallen prey should be picked up and consumed. Pigeons that are not for immediate consumption can be given to a charity centre.

Remember:

Wild pigeons.

  • Mating season: February-March
  • Egg laying: Until late June
  • Chick raising: From March to mid-August

Domestic pigeons.

  • Mating season, egg laying and chick raising: All year
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