White-tailed Laurel-pigeon Columba junoniae


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because, within its very small range, it is restricted to just four islands, on which threats remain that could negatively impact the species in the future.

Population justification
In the absence of detailed censuses, the breeding population is estimated to number 1,000-2,500 breeding pairs, equating to 3,000-7,500 individuals, roughly equivalent to 2,000-5,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's Area of Occupancy is larger than previously thought and may have increased over the last 20 years (Barov and Derhé 2011), thus its population is suspected to have increased over the last 17 years (estimate of three generations).

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to the Canary Islands, Spain, where it occurs on the islands of La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and El Hierro (González 1996, Martín and Lorenzo 2001), and formerly on Gran Canaria (Barov and Derhé 2011). In the 1980s, the population was estimated at 1,200-1,480 individuals, but more surveys conducted during 1997-2000 estimated the population at 1,000-2,499 pairs (BirdLife International 2004). Although this figure is considerably higher than the previous estimate, the increase in numbers may reflect increased sampling effort rather than an actual population increase, however the species is now believed to be more widely distributed than previously thought (Martín and Lorenzo 2001, Martín et al. 2000). Data from censuses and recent phylogenetic studies have shown that the preferred vegetation type of the species is thermophilous forest (Marrero et al. 2008, Gonzalez et al. 2009, Nogales et al. 2009), which has been heavily reduced and only small fragments of original habitat remain (Santos 2000). Habitat loss has had severe consequences on the distribution of the species, which currently survives in secondary areas of laurel and pine forest (Martín et al. 2000). The largest subpopulation is found on La Palma, where it occurs across much of the northern half of the island. The species is common on La Gomera, where it is found primarily in the north, and also occurs patchily on the northern slopes of Tenerife. It has recently also been recorded on El Hierro; however, breeding there has not yet been confirmed (Martín and Lorenzo 2001, Martín et al. 2000). Although the species was recently suspected to be declining on Tenerife (Hernández 2004), data suggest that its Area of Occupancy, and so presumably its population, has increased overall during the last 20 years (Barov and Derhé 2011).


It prefers thermophilous forest, with a potential altitudinal range of 200–500 m asl on the north slopes of the islands, and 600–1000 m asl in the south (Nogales et al. 2009) and occurs in areas with steep slopes, escarpments and gullies, as well as in laurel forest and Canary pine forest, and cultivated areas (Martín et al. 2000). Nests are on the ground - in fissures, holes or small ledges, at the bases of trees, and under rocks or fallen tree trunks - in steep, rocky, shady areas with abundant shrubby vegetation, and contain one or occasionally two eggs (Martín et al. 2000). The breeding season varies between islands, but extends from January to September, with a peak between April-June. At least on Tenerife, breeding success appears to be low, as a consequence of intense nest predation (Hernández et al. 1999, Martín et al. 2000). It is usually sedentary but can move from upland forests to lowland agricultural land to feed (Baptista et al. 2017). It feeds on fruit, grain, buds and flowers (Baptista et al. 2017).


Habitat loss has been extensive. Dry and laurel forests have been intensively exploited since the 15th century, and some areas of remaining forest continue to be felled and fragmented owing to the demand for wooden stakes and poles for agriculture, particularly vine-growing (Hernández 2004, Martín et al. 2000). Grazing by livestock, notably sheep, is degrading habitat on El Hierro and La Gomera. Predation of eggs and chicks by rats, and of nesting adults by feral cats Felis catus, are important threats (Hernández 2004), particularly on Tenerife where five of seven nests monitored were predated, primarily by black rats Rattus rattus (Hernández et al. 1999, Martín et al. 2000). Illegal hunting remains a threat, especially when birds concentrate at drinking and feeding sites (Hernández 2004). Recreational activities such as climbing, abseiling, quad-biking, mountain-biking and motocross may disturb nesting birds (Hernández 2004, Barov and Derhé 2011). The species is potentially threatened by outbreaks of Avian Pox, Trichomoniasis, Newcastle Disease and Tuberculosis (Barov and Derhé 2011, A. Martín in litt. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. It is fully protected under Spanish law. Many protected areas have been established, including Garajonay National Park (La Gomera), and El Canal and Los Tiles (La Palma). The majority of areas inhabited by the species now have protected status under regional or national law (Barov and Derhé 2011). There have been several projects focused on the conservation of this species (and Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba bollii) since the 1980s. An action plan was published in 1996 and reviewed in 2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011). The restoration of pine forest and thermophile forest is still pending full implementation (Barov and Derhé 2011). As part of a LIFE project (2005-2008), work has been carried out to eradicate exotic plant species, plant native species, raise public awareness and increase knowledge of the survival of different native species found in thermophilous forest. Rat control programmes are in place on some islands. There are on-going efforts to reintroduce the species to Gran Canaria using birds from La Palma (Barov and Derhé 2011). Breeding facilities have been built and so far 201 individuals have been released on Gran Canaria, with at least 20 chicks hatched in the wild (A. Martín in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a population census and initiate monitoring. Ensure the adequate protection of key sites, particularly as yet unprotected ones on La Gomera and La Palma. Continue to promote the restoration of dry and laurel forests. Avoid further damage to laurel forest from commercial forestry. Control introduced predators at breeding sites, particularly on Tenerife. Control illegal hunting, especially at drinking sites. Continue on-going education and awareness campaigns. Develop and implement a new national Conservation Plan (J. A. Lorenzo in litt. 2016).


38 cm. Large, dark brown and grey pigeon. Mainly dark sepia-brown, redder on underparts. Pale grey tail with broad, whitish terminal band. Extensive green gloss to rear crown and hindneck becoming pink on upper mantle. Whitish bill and pale eye. Similar spp. Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon C. bollii has pale grey subterminal band and blackish terminal band to tail. Dark tail base and rump and overall slate-grey colouration. Voice Crooning pu-pu-pooo.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Capper, D., Westrip, J., Pople, R., Taylor, J., Peet, N., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J.

Lorenzo, J., Martín, A., Iñigo, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Columba junoniae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/10/2020.