- Columba turtur Linnaeus, 1758
European Turtle-dove, European Turtle Dove, European Turtle-Dove, Turtle Dove
IUCN: VU; Bo (II); EUBD (IIA)
Value of species
Game (hunting) species
IUCN: Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd
The species is a widespread migrant breeder across much of central and southern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, wintering mainly in the Sahel zone of Africa (Baptista et al. 2015). It has undergone large range declines in NW Europe, including the Netherlands and UK (e.g. Balmer et al. 2013), and the population continues to decrease throughout Europe (BirdLife International 2015).
The European population is estimated at 3,150,000-5,940,000 pairs, which equates to 6,310,000-11,900,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 19,300,000-71,400,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
Trend Justification: The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation. In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 15.9 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01), based on data from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands, P. Vorisek in litt. 2008). In Central Asia (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) an analysis of observations of the species suggests that it has experienced a moderate or possibly strong decline over the past two to four decades (R. Ayé in litt. 2015). In Uzbekistan the species has declined severely over the past thirty years (R. Kashkarov in litt. 2015). The formerly large population in European Russia has crashed by >80% since 2000 and by >90% since 1980 (BirdLife International 2015). Declines have also been reported from parts of east and south-east Kazakhstan, for example the species is now rare, or even absent in the Manrak Mountains, where it was once common (Wassink and Oreel 2008).
The species uses a wide variety of woodland types, as well as steppe and semi-desert (Baptista et al. 2015), frequently relying on agricultural land for feeding (Tucker and Heath 1994). It may use hedges, borders of forest, groves, spinneys, coppices, young tree plantations, scrubby wasteland, woody marshes, scrub and garigue (Tucker and Heath 1994). It tolerates humans but does not breed close to towns or villages (Baptista et al. 2015). It generally breeds at low altitudes not exceeding 500 m in the temperate zone and up to 1,000-1,300 m in Mediterranean areas (Tucker and Heath 1994). Breeding commences in April and can last until September (J. Dunn in litt. 2016). It lays one to two eggs (Baptista et al. 2015, J. Dunn in litt. 2016). The nest is a small platform of twigs lined with plant material and placed in the lowest parts of trees (Tucker and Heath 1994) and in shrubs and hedges. A study in Morocco found that laying period can influence fledging success with earlier nest producing more fledglings and within agricultural land nests in olive orchards produced more fledglings than orange orchards (Hanane 2016). It mainly feeds on the ground taking seeds and fruits of weeds and cereals, but rarely also berries, fungi and invertebrates. It is strongly migratory (Baptista et al. 2015), wintering south of the Sahara from Senegal east to Eritrea and Ethiopia (Tucker and Heath 1994) where survival is strongly linked to cereal production (Eraud et al. 2009).
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