Turtle Dove

UK status:

There has been a population decline of about 75% since the mid-1970s. The breeding population was thought to be about 14,000 pairs in 2015, down from 28,000 in 2009

Status at Abbey Farm:

Usually present from early May to late September. 1-3 pairs bred annually until 2013. It is thought none bred in 2014-15. One record of a singing bird in May 2016

Notes from Abbey Farm:

  • In August 2014 we cultivated two plots to provide weed seeds for doves as early as possible in 2015. Unfortunately the plots contained very little Fumitory, which we think is an important food source for Turtle Doves in this area
  • We repeated this in 2015-16 creating two new plots, adding Fumitory seed collected from the farm to one of them. These have a lot of Fumitory and other weeds, but no doves have been seen using them yet
  • We carry out supplementary feeding during May, which sometimes attracts Turtle Doves
  • We have introduced Wild Clematis (also known as Traveller’s Joy) in a few areas of scrub or hedge. In time this may provide more diversity of nesting habitat
  • Up to 2013 it is likely Turtle Doves here benefitted from the arable weeds in developing chalk grassland. This habitat has lots of arable weeds in the years before the sward knits together
  • There is a lot of good information on Turtle Dove conservation on the Operation Turtle Dove website
  • Following hearing a presentation by Dr Tony Morris of the RSPB at a Conservation Grade meeting, we’re going to check our feeding habitat sites for bare ground – the doves like 30-50% bare to allow them to get to the seeds. Also, in the future we’ll focus less on Fumitory but include that in a wider spectrum of target weed species
Fumitory in a cultivated margin
Fumitory in a cultivated margin
Fumitory flowers and green seeds
Fumitory flowers and green seeds