European Turtle Dove

Why make it so difficult for you to choose what kind of bird to care for when you have such an easy time choosing a turtledove? A beautiful bird that you will undoubtedly love to take care of, like the European turtle dove.

Where does this bird live?

The European turtledove, known by specialists as streptopelia turtur, belongs to the family columbidae (of pigeons) and lives in Europe, North Africa and Central Asia, being one of the most distended variants of the species.

According to a 2007 European report on common birds, the population of this species had fallen by 62% in recent years, due to agricultural practices that make the feeding of this species more scarce.

Is it such a beautiful bird?

It is a slender looking bird, but small in size, measuring between 24 – 25 cm, weighing up to 170 grams. There is no sexual dimorphism, so DNA testing must be used to determine your sex.

It has a brown plumage, with a grey neck, head and flanks, while on the sides of the neck it has a black and white striped stain. The wings have a pattern that appears to be flaky, as their covers are blackish in the central area with cinnamon edges.

European turtle pigeon

The flight feathers of both the wings and the tail are blackish brown in colour, but the tail has a white tip except for the central and lateral feathers which are white. The beak is black, with a bare red area. The iris is yellow. When they are young, they tend to have duller, browner tones, with no spots on their necks.

Four subspecies are recognized:

  • Streptopella turtur turtur: Which is the nominal species and spreads over Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • Streptopella turtur arenícola: Which resides in the Balearic Islands, the northwest of Africa and Iran, as well as in the extreme west of China.
  • Streptopella turtur hoggara: It lives in the south of the Sahara.
  • Streptopella turtur rufescens: It can be found in Egypt as well as in northern Sudan.

What else is known about this species?

Perhaps it is because of the small size of their species at present that their breeding is only in the hands of experienced breeders who can offer them the right conditions to reproduce. Despite the fact that its population is very depleted, in ancient times it was a very appreciated bird, both for its singing and for its appearance, making it a symbol of peace. In religious matters it is also a very precious bird, named after the birth of Jesus Christ.

They live in wooded countryside, meadows and other open woodlands with plenty of vegetation, preferring to be next to grasslands and farming areas where they can get food. Normally, they form flocks in fields of stubble so that they can go to look for grains at the end of the summer, after the harvest. They feed especially on small seeds and herbs.

Streptopelia turtur

During the first one, you can see small groups crossing Europe, coming from Africa, on their way to what are called “breeding grounds” at the end of April and not returning home until September.

The process that the turtledove carries out for the courtship is very similar to that of the wood pigeon, but with a less undulating flight and with clicks that it carries out with the wings while they descend. The nest is built with small branches with a little vegetation. It is normal that the laying is of 2 eggs, being able to make two or three clutches per season. The chicks take about three weeks to hatch and do not leave the nest until the end of the month.

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