Learn All About Streptopelia Turtur, the European Turtleback

The Streptopelia Turtur is a species of bird that is located in different areas of Europe, North Africa and Central Asia, in the following article we will know more details of the characteristics, habitat, and certain interesting facts of this particular species.

Streptopelia turtur

The Streptopelia Turtur, also known as the European Turtle Dove, is a bird with surprising characteristics, which has a small size, measuring 24 to 29 cm long, and its wingspan corresponds to 47 to 55 cm, the weight of this bird is about 85 to 170 grams?

This bird usually has very defined colors in its plumage which has a brownish tone. It also has other colors distributed in certain areas of its body, which contrast with its main color.


  • It has defined colors
  • There are tonalities in certain zones of its body which contrast with the main color
  • Its wings have a scaly pattern
  • Certain areas of its plumage have a black color
  • It possesses in the wings edges of color cinnamon
  • Its chest has a wine-like tone
  • Its belly and the underside of its tail are white
  • Its flight feathers of both its wings and tail are blackish brown
  • Its tail feathers have white tips
  • The two central feathers are neutral
  • The two feathers of the lateral parts are completely white
  • Its beak is black
  • It presents an area of its body without tonality usually looks red
  • The color of his eyes, the iris is yellow
  • Its paws are red
  • The birds in the young stage are more opaque and brownish tones
  • Young birds have no spots on the neck and no dark mottling on the wings
  • Their legs are in some specimens brownish
  • Its sounds are similar to those of other turtledoves


The Streptopelia turtur, or better known as the European turtledove, has a surprising historical background, since this bird was scientifically described in 1758, and was given the name Columba turtur, which means turtledove pigeon. After some time this denomination changed, since it was transferred to the genus Streptopelia, which according to diverse data was created by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in the year 1855.

In general the name of this genus, Streptopelia, belongs to the Greek etymology, which is composed of the combination of the words (streptos) that means (chain) and when joining it with the word (pelia) that means (dove), is definitions were established to the species to refer to the typical neck spots of these birds.

As for the meaning of its common name, turtur, it comes from the Latin word, of onomatopoeic origin, which means (turtledove), and which refers to its name in Spanish.


There are generally recognized about 4 subspecies of Streptopelia turtur, which are defined as:


  • Streptopelia turtur arenicola, this bird is found in areas from the Balearic Islands and northwest Africa to Iran and the extreme west of China
  • Streptopelia turtur hoggara, this bird is located south of the Sahara
  • Streptopelia turtur rufescens, this bird usually occupies part of Egypt and northern Sudan
  • Streptopelia turtur turtur turtur, this bird ranges from the Azores and the Canary Islands through Europe to western Siberia and Kazakhstan



The Streptopelia Turtur is a bird that is characterized by being a species of great trajectories, this one has an easy adaptation to different environments and usually moves according to its reproductive period to certain spaces.

It is a migratory bird, the Streptopelia Turtur breeds in certain places which include the southwestern area of the Palearctic, where it moves habitually as part of its typical habits, it also usually travels the environments near the place where it settles. This species has a wide resistance because it can move long distances due to its natural capacity, also the Streptopelia Turtur has a wide food diet, since its food is close to the places where it goes frequently. (see article: Wood Pigeon).

Its breeding area is considered wide, since it extends over most of Europe, although it does not include the northernmost regions such as the north of Europe:

  • Middle East
  • Central Asia
  • North Africa


Streptopelia turtur characteristically overwinters just south of the Sahara, and extends into the Sahel as far as Ethiopia, this ?as part of its usual nature.

This bird complies with the determined periods of its cycles and for this reason its travels according to the seasons are usually constant, since it moves from one place to another according to its stage of development, it also travels in search of food or moves to places in nearby areas.

Threats to the species

The Streptopelia turtur, according to different opinions, is a bird that has been threatened due to diverse circumstances among which its population has been significantly affected throughout the years, due to the events that are established in its environment.

After different processes it was determined that a percentage of 62% of the population of Streptopelia turtur was affected as a result of various factors and damage to their habitat, this has been a frequent occurrence in recent times.

For this reason many of? environmental groups presume that the declines of these Streptopelia turtur populations are caused by changes in agricultural practices, which make most of the seeds and sprouts consumed by this bird less common and also hunting is a threat to this species in the Mediterranean countries, where it is a common practice. (see article: Agapornis Canus).

For this reason there are other causes that have reduced the numbers of Streptopelia Turtur, in some parts where it established its population, according to the European Commission, between 2 and 4 million Streptopelia Turtur are hunted in the following places:

  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Greece

For this reason this difficult situation has been tried to be controlled, since a series of measures have been taken to avoid this fact, in places like Malta is the only country in the European Union, which still allows hunting during the spring migration when they go to their breeding quarters, it is for this reason that many of these species have large declines.


As for the behavior of the Streptopelia turtur, it is usually characterized by being a bird of areas where there are some rural areas, unlike the turtle dove, which is a species that stands out for inhabiting the main urban areas.

The Streptopelia Turtur usually inhabits diverse zones which include areas of ample vegetation, wooded countryside, and open areas with abundant shrubs. They are birds with a calm temperament and are usually active, making very subtle sounds to communicate with other birds in their natural environment. They are also frequently found in farmland areas where they seek to feed.

The Streptopelia Turtur, is a bird that forms groups since it moves in flocks, frequents different spaces among which stand out the extensive places like the fields. In many cases the Streptopelia Turtur usually goes to areas in search of varied foods which include grains, and in seasons when the summer ends, it moves to other areas and goes in search of the harvests of that period.

In general, the Streptopelia turtur is a bird that feeds mainly on small seeds and various grasses, it looks for certain plants and natural objects on the ground to feed.

In spring the Streptopelia turtur is usually located in small migratory groups, which are characterized by crossing certain parts of Europe and are from North Africa from where they move to fulfill their usual route.

These birds are on their way to many of their breeding grounds since the corresponding period for Streptopelia turtur is established, which occurs at the end of April, and then return to Africa in September, as part of their daily life.

In places as determined these birds of Streptopelia Turtur, usually occupy most of Europe, although it is not included certain places as they are:

  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Scandinavia


Streptopelia turtur is generally a bird that is not found in the mountains, although it is frequently present in different cultivated fields and spaces that are large and with a lot of vegetation, in places such as large gardens, which it finds comfortable.

The Streptopelia Turtur, usually performs a series of processes for reproduction these are based techniques of their natural instinct, in various exhibitions of courtship of the male establishes habits similar to those performed by the wood pigeon, although this bird has a less exaggerated flight which is accompanied by clicking with the wings when descending, and other sounds typical of this bird.

During the breeding season, the characteristic sound emitted by the Streptopelia Turtur, which has given rise to the name that this species has, is usually a subtle noise and does not cover great distances. As for the nest of the Streptopelia Turtur, it is usually built with products found in nature among which are the varieties of branches, with which it makes a small platform of twigs, on the vegetation and has a certain height.

Generally the female of this species is characterized by laying 2 eggs, and can make 2 or 3 clutches per season, depending on the capacity of their species, this process is done in the months of May to July, where the Streptopelia Turtur fulfills its natural development stage. (see article: Rallidae).

General details

The Streptopelia turtur is very similar to a common or European turtle dove, as it has features that make it look like these species, it is a migratory bird that moves to different places as part of its basic characteristics, this bird has its breeding area in the southwestern Palearctic area on a regular basis.

Its reproductive processes are extensive and extend throughout Europe, although it does not include some areas of its immediate surroundings. This species has a flight capacity due to the fact that it can travel long distances without minor effort.

This bird is considered a migratory species par excellence since it has its own established routes which have diverse locations that include the warm zones of tropical Africa and different nearby areas.

The Streptopelia Turtur usually uses a meeting point in the winter season, which it uses for its routes, during the summer months in Europe usually migrates regularly to the southern areas and also covers other places, although it has been proven that Spain is taken as a key point for the Streptopelia Turtur in the passage of many of its specimens during the following months:

The habitat of this bird varies according to the territory where it is found, since it can include areas of crops, near forests that are in their daily space, it is necessary that the places where it is established contain areas with water.

The Streptopelia Turtur usually avoids cold areas where the temperature is higher than its usual control, and that are located in the high mountains and the rains with which it initiates migrations to other warmer points, are a little annoying for these birds. As for the food of the Streptopelia Turtur, there are wide varieties, among them the most common are the grains of ceral, the buds, the fruits that are in their usual space.


The Streptopelia Turtur is a bird very similar to the pigeon but its size is considered smaller, its wingspan is different from other species and is around 50 centimeters.

As for the weight of this bird does not exceed 250 grams, its most significant details are the colors it has, as they are very defined, as for the belly of the Streptopelia Turtur is clear, has a white tone and the back of chestnut color and has certain dark spots in different areas. The Streptopelia Turtur has white spots, which have black lines on the neck, the tail is black with white edges. The flight feathers are also usually black, as well as its bill, which is usually black.


The reproduction process of the Streptopelia turtur begins at the beginning of spring when these specimens perform the courtship by both sexes, where they establish different sounds as part of their communication.

The courtship of the Streptopelia turtur is similar to other species of small size although with a less developed type of flight since they usually establish their own style at the moment of flying and emitting sounds.

The female of this species is characterized by being the one that builds a very simple nest in trees or bushes, which is located safely for their offspring, it is there where she lays 2 eggs and occurs in the months corresponding to March and June.

These eggs are incubated by both parents for a period of about 14 days. These birds lay between 1 and 3 clutches per year. After 3 weeks of hatching, the chicks leave the nest as part of their natural development and settle in different areas.

Specific traits

The Streptopelia turtur is a species that in many cases has been considered as a game bird, which is well known in places like Spain, and where hunting is normally allowed in most of the autonomous communities.

At certain times there are places where they gather to hunt this bird, mainly in the middle of August until September, this is organized as part of their customs. The hunting of this bird Streptopelia Turtur occurs once the breeding season is over, many of those who participate in this catch it when it moves through their frequent areas.

In the last decades there is a smaller group of the populations of these species due to different events, for such reason this decrease is something worrisome, since it places the bird at risk.Many of the specimens of this bird established in Europe suffer from hunting practices, since in this place it is normal for this type of activity to take place.

Another factor that puts this species at risk is the increase in intensive agriculture, which has developed to a greater extent as a consequence of modernism.

Different typical food products have also been contaminated, such as cereals and fruits that this bird consumes on a daily basis, as well as other birds and animals that are close to it, which consume the same food.

This fact usually generates different biological alterations in the birds, which are of a reproductive nature, and cause strong damages in the reduction of the clutches, since they weaken the eggs of the Streptopelia turtur.

Another factor that puts this species at risk is the hunting activity to which this bird is exposed and also on many occasions climate change, are reasons that also influence, although not directly.

This species moves to places of great distances, where it shows its level of capacity to feed on certain products of nature, among which fruits and food that it often finds on the ground stand out.

Another of the characteristics of the Streptopelia turtur bird is that it is easily adaptable, as it can go to different places frequently, although it mainly fulfills its season and then moves to its usual areas.

It stands out for creating nests in places protected from predators, this is done as a means of natural defense and serves to keep their chicks free from any threat, it is common to feed with the help of the male to their offspring while they fulfill their development process and can become independent.

The nests of these species are made of products of nature, which are usually found in their environment. They elaborate in a simple way a small space, but at the same time comfortable for everything that comprises the good development of their species.

This bird is characterized by its small size, it moves in a practical way through different spaces in search of food, among the main environments it can go to different spaces in the corresponding seasons or in search of food.


The bird of this species in the adult stage has a series of differences in comparison to the young birds of Streptopelia Tutur, these vary both in the tones and colors that are located in some areas of its body, which include:

  • The plumage
  • The head,
  • Collars
  • The flanks
  • The blue-gray rump
  • The cinnamon-tan wings mottled with a black color

Usually the birds in their young stage usually have less dark tones, as these change through the natural development that these birds go through when they reach adulthood, that is why there are very noticeable differences in both ages of the species.

The Streptopelia Turtur, in the periods of nestling also usually presents changes in its colors and feathers, that is passing the time manages to obtain an aspect similar to the members of its species.

It is a bird that stands out for its wide frequency in open forests rather than dense, and usually feeds on the ground of the animals found around them as part of their daily habits.

Occasionally it will nest in large gardens, but generally it is in larger spaces with a lot of vegetation, it is an extremely quiet bird, it does not make much noise probably due to the strong pressure it lives under because of hunting, it tends to be elusive.

In terms of flight, it is often described as an agile bird, although it is not so fast, it can navigate to certain areas with good dexterity, during its daily movements. (see article: Characteristics of pigeons).

The Turtle Dove, also commonly known as Streptopelia Turtur, is usually found in the areas of the Sierra de Baza during the summer season, as this is the means it uses to travel to other places. It is a species that in many cases is considered very frequent, which is usually seen in its basal area, and can also find different ranges and flight levels when moving to many areas.

It is normal for this bird to be observed in cultivated and scrubland areas, as it moves to these environments in search of food. It is a bird of mainly migratory characteristics and moves to areas in the company of many birds.

This bird settles in certain places such as the basal area when it reaches the month of April and September, as these are the times when it covers these areas. The flocks of these birds move when April arrives and remain in the mountains until late September and early October, which is when they migrate to African lands as part of their daily life.

This bird is also frequent in the sierra, because it is a hunting species and for this reason is accustomed to make these journeys where it reaches several areas, its population in some places has a high number of them.

Depending on the area, these birds move on a daily basis. Their population has been affected by different causes, such as damage to their habitat and the frequent use of chemicals in the natural products they consume on a daily basis.

There are also other causes which show a decline in the number of species that over time have suffered a strong threat, according to records made many of the habitats in which this bird was found, have disappeared.

Most of its spaces suffer from heavy damage, also sometimes the nests and chicks are in vulnerable conditions due to certain predators that are located in the places of their natural environment, although these cases do not compare with other factors that affect this bird.

These birds are relatively abundant in various areas, where there is adequate vegetation, since they usually manage to obtain a lot of fruit and nearby sites that have sufficient water, even though there is a risk of threat.

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