Turtle Doves have distinctive colouring and a unique turr turr song which makes identifying them easy. Sadly these summer visitors have dramatically decreased in numbers and are now red-listed in the UK and were upgraded to vulnerable on the IUCN redlist in 2015.
Along with the plight of other farmland birds such as the skylark and lapwing, changes in farming practises have severely affected the Turtle Dove population. These ground foraging birds eat smaller seeds found in wild plants which grow in crops, and it is these plants that are becoming increasingly scarce.
The loss of suitable nesting sites such as overgrown hedgerows and hawthorn thickets near farmland ponds are also considered to be a factor in the decline of the Turtle Dove. Hunting along the migratory route to their wintering grounds in West Africa is another contributing factor and with declining populations this may now be critical.
Actively saving species
Operation Turtle Dove began in 2012, in partnership with the RSPB, Natural England and Conservation Grade the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust is determined to reverse the decline of this beautiful farmland species.
Seed preference tests are ongoing at Pensthorpe to discover what seed mixture works best for the Turtle Dove. This research along with others will help establish the next step, which is to use the data to create and enhance the Turtle Dove’s preferred habitat and food sources, and then look to improve the local area accordingly.
We need your help
The Turtle Dove as a summer breeder in the UK will become extinct within 10 years if we take no action, you can help by finding out more at the Operation Turtle Dove website or by following the Penthorpe Conservation Trust & joining our mailing list. The future of the turtle dove is in our hands.
Find out about our other conservation projects.