Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
[order] Columbiformes | [family] Columbidae | [latin] Streptopelia turtur | [UK] Turtle-Dove | [FR] Tourterelle des bois | [DE] Turteltaube | [ES] Tórtola Europea | [IT] Tortora europea | [NL] Zomertortel
spanwidth min.: 47 cm
spanwidth max.: 53 cm
size min.: 24 cm
size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 13 days
incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 18 days
fledging max.: 22 days
eggs min.: 1
eggs max.: 2
Forehead pale bluish grey darkening on crown, nape and hindneck. Throat white, sides of face pinkish grey, lower throat and breast mauve-pink merging into white on belly and undertail coverts. Inner wing co coverts and scapulars consist of black feathers with broad orange-buff fringes creating a spotted effect. Outer wing coverts and underwing bluish grey. Underside of tail black and white. Iris varying from golden yellow to light orange. Orbital skin dark purplish blue. Bill blackish often with purple tinge, paler toward tip. Legs purplish red Race arenicola slightly smaller and paler, and hoggara richly colored with broad, deep orange-buff fringes to wing coverts, head and rump feathers with sandy tips. In rufescens, male mainly rich dark sandy orange on crown and upperpars with breast deep pink, whereas famale paler with lighter pink breast often suffused with buff.
Wide variety of woodland types, as well as steppe and semi-desert. Does not inhabit unbroken forests, preferring forest borders, open woodland and heath with tree clumps. Avoids windy cloudy and wet regions preferring sunny, dry and sheltered areas, also avoids mountains. Common in forests of holm oak and cork oak, open red juniper and forests interspersed with farms, also olive groves and date-palm oases in parts of its range.
Streptopelia turtur is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>3,500,000 pairs), but underwent a moderate decline between 1970-1990. Although the species was stable or increased in various countries, especially in central Europe, during 1990-2000, most populations-including sizeable ones in Spain, Russia and Turkey-declined, and the species underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall.
This dove inhabits a major part of Europe, central and western Asia, North Africa and the Canary islands. European birds are wintering mainly in the Sahel regions of Africa. Since the mid-1970's this species undergoes a strong decline amounting to more than 50% in western Europe. The population of the European Union is currently estimated at 1.5 million breeding pairs, the total European population at 2.2-8 millions. The reasons for this decline are habitat destruction (e. g. the widespread disappearance of hedges), use of pesticides, over-hunting along the migration flyways and increasing drought of the Sahel and Sudan regions
Diet based on seeds and fruits of weeds and cereals. Seeds taken include those of Brassica, Chenopodium, Fumaria, Helianthus, Medicago and Triticum. Berries and fungi are occasionally eaten, also earthworms, some insects and small snails. Although largely arboreal, finds most of its food on the ground.
May in Europe. Nest is flimsy platform of small twigs, lined with grass stems or roots and leaves, placed in a tree, shrub or hedge. occasionally uses old nests of other birds. 2 eggs, incubation 15 days. Has a refractory period (when unresponsive to stimuli) following breeding, unique among all pigeons so far studied. First breeding at 1 year old.
Migratory, with possible exception of some Saharan breeding birds. Essentially a summer visitor to Palearctic, wintering in Africa: in semi-arid Soudanian and savanna zones from Sénégal and Guinea to Sudan and Ethiopia, and as far south as northern Ghana and northern Cameroun. Leaves European breeding areas late July to September (adults and juveniles together), with stragglers into October; passage broad-front (with south-westerly orientation in Eurasia), but also some suggestion of partial concentration for Mediterranean crossings. Migrants from western Europe recovered especially in south-west France and Iberia (but not Galicia), and enter Africa through Morocco. Many also cross Balkans and Italy at both seasons, to enter or leave Africa via Tunisia and Libya. On Malta, up to 20 000 per day at peak spring passage (fewer in autumn) and c. 100 000 shot there annually. Numerous oases records, sometimes involving large falls, show Sahara crossed at many points and probably on broad front. Most disappear from south of Sahara in March and first half of April, though small numbers summer there. Main northward passage through Mediterranean in second half of April, with breeding areas reoccupied during May.