I've been working on an assignment to develop mathematical models of urban pigeon populations. (As a disclaimer, this is part of a math course, not a biology course). I already understand the mathematics behind this and have developed several plausible models, but I'm at the stage where I need more detailed data in order to validate my models.

It's surprisingly difficult to find accurate population dynamics data for urban pigeons (especially given my inexperience with this kind of a literature search and general "unsophisticated" understanding of biology).

I do have access to some journals (e.g., via my university library, Google Scholar and Amazon.com), but the best resource I've been able to come up with so far is Illinois Birds: A Century of Change (published by the University of Illinois). The books on urban bird populations I've found so far all seem to be targeted to bird watchers (which I'm not).

Is anyone aware of a detailed/accurate data set on population dynamics (either of urban pigeon populations in particular or of urban bird populations in general)?

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of data are you looking for exactly? Spatial distributions, temporal patterns, population demographics, life histories, community data, behavior, etc. ?? $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 4 '17 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist Primarily population demographics and trends. $\endgroup$ – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Feb 4 '17 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist thanks for editing BTW, it's definitely an improvement (I'm still new to the field) $\endgroup$ – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Feb 5 '17 at 1:40
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    $\begingroup$ Everything I've ever read about pigeons complains about how poorly studied they are, so you may be out of luck $\endgroup$ – iayork Feb 6 '17 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @iayork I was afraid of that. The best I've been able to find so far is general bird surveys that include attempts to survey the pigeon population (e.g. the study I found of birds in Illinois; that data seems pretty good but it's unfortunately really geographically narrow); is that the best I'm likely to do? $\endgroup$ – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 17:31

You can find population data for lots of species at The Global Population Dynamics Database, which can be used to test and fit population models. When searching for Columbidae (the dove family) I find 16 datasets of different lengths, but none for Columba livia though.

To search and download data you first need to register for a user account.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks; out of curiosity, do you know why pigeons tend to be so poorly studied? It seems like the fact that they live mostly in urban environments (at least in areas like Illinois that mostly lack cliffs) would make them easier to study if anything. $\endgroup$ – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Feb 14 '17 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know, but I assume it's because familiarity breeds contempt. No one cares about pigeons, any more than you'll find people doing detailed surveys of Norwegian Rats. It's unfair because (I've only recently learned) they are fascinating birds in many ways, but there just doesn't seem to be any interest in describing them. $\endgroup$ – iayork Feb 14 '17 at 15:40

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