Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

About

The turtle dove is a small pigeon, just a little bit smaller than collared dove. Turtle doves breed in woodlands, orchards and well-wooded parks; the UK is the northern end of its range and it can be mainly found in the warmer, drier south and east. Adults feed on cereal and wildflower seeds but feed their young 'pigeon milk' - a regurgitated, milky substance from a food-storage organ called a 'crop'.

How to identify

Much more colourful than the collared dove, the turtle dove has an orangey-brown back with a tortoiseshell pattern of black, a blue-grey head, pink chest and three or four black and white stripes forming a patch on the side of the neck. They sound different to collared doves: turtle doves have a purring 'turrr turrr turr' song (hence their Latin name), compared to the familiar 'hoo hoooo-hoo' of the collared dove.

Where to find it

Found throughout England and the lowlands of Wales. Declining.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

The turtle dove has suffered serious declines in recent decades due to changing agricultural practices and habitat loss. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Turtle Dove
Latin name
Streptopelia turtur
Category
Birds
Pigeons and doves
Statistics
Length: 26-28cm Wingspan: 50cm Weight: 140g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.