Turtle doves

Last updated: 19 Dec 2016

CFE is encouraging farmers to do their bit to help conserve one of the iconic birds of UK farmland. Turtle doves are under threat for several reasons and some CFE environmental measures that sit alongside productive agriculture can help to provide the nesting sites and food sources that they need whilst in the UK.

Download the CFE guide here.

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The gentle purr of the turtle dove is an evocative sound of summer, but one that has become increasingly rare. By implementing certain CFE Voluntary Measures farmers can help to protect this important farmland bird.

Turtle doves are Europe’s only long distance migratory dove. They only spend a third of the year on their breeding grounds in Europe with the rest of their time either on migration or over wintering in sub-Saharan West Africa.

The UK is the northern end of their range and whilst they were once widespread across England, turtle doves are now mainly restricted to the east and south east of the country.

What is a turtle dove?

To identify a turtle dove look for these features:

• Smaller than any other pigeon or dove in the UK and slightly larger than a blackbird.

• Orange eyes.

• Black and white striped patch on neck.

• Black tail with a thin white edge.

• Chestnut and black diamonds on wings.

• Pale grey-lilac head and breast.

Further guidance can be found in the CFE guide and from Operation Turtle Dove.

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