Being dark is better: a feral pigeon plumage polymorphism as a response to urban environments in Slovakia.
The purpose of this study was to determine the distribution and plumage phenotypes of the feral pigeon, Columba livia forma urbana (Gmelin, 1789), in Slovakia. Censuses carried out in the built-up areas of 16 towns and cities from November to February (2012-2018) counted and evaluated 3,123 individual birds. The most frequent were melanic colored birds (checker, T-pattern and spread phenotypes), which predominated in the population (51.6%, n = 1,613), followed by paler ones (42.1%, n = 1,316) and other types (6.2%, n = 194). A statistically significant difference was confirmed among the melanic and paler plumage phenotypes (χ2 = 81.49, df = 15, p < 0.0001). Correlation confirmed the different importance of city area and human density on the maintenance of dark and/or pale pigeons living in cities.