RESEARCH: Turtle Dove numbers are declining in the United Kingdom

A research study in 2021 found that the number of Turtle Doves were declining in the United Kingdom. Volunteers, farmers, study groups, bird clubs, and other organizatios all contributed to the research. 

The first national survey of Turtle Doves in the UK in fifty years showed that there were only 2,100 pairs of Turtle Doves that now breed in the country, which is a decline of 98% from 125,000 pairs in 1970.

The survey found that the Turle Dove is now concentrated in south-eastern and eastern England, and as far north as Yorkshire.

European Turtle Dove

Andrew Stanbury, a conservation scientist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said, ‘In the Seventies, there were records of flocks of over five hundred birds’ but this is no longer the situation.

The European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) is a bird in the Columbidae family of doves and pigeons. In Europe, it migrates to north Africa to breed. The bird is a symbol of love because the pair of Turtle Doves stay together for life.

The decline is due to the loss of habitat and unsustainable hunting of the Turtle Dove. However, the researchers are optimistic that the decline can be reversed with hunting restrictions and the provision of good nesting habitats, such as tall hedges and scrublands. 

Operation Turtle Dove, which is a partnership of conservation groups, will help support the preservation of the birds. Part of this will be the promotion of agri-environmental schemes to support farmers to implement wildlife-friendly measures on their land.

In 2021, for the first time, France, Spain, and Portugal governments banned the hunting and killing of Turtle Doves. The United Kingdom will consider following the actions of these countries in order to save the Turtle Dove.

Photographer: Associated Press


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