Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia turtur)


[order] COLUMBIFORMES | [family] Columbidae | [latin] Streptopelia turtur | [UK] Turtle-Dove | [FR] Tourterelle des bois | [DE] Turteltaube | [ES] Tortola Europea | [NL] Tortelduif


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Forehead pale bluish grey darkening on crown, nape and hindneck. Throat white, sides of face pinkish grey, lower throat and breast mauve-pink merging into white on belly and undertail coverts.
Inner wing co coverts and scapulars consist of black feathers with broad orange-buff fringes creating a spotted effect. Outer wing coverts and underwing bluish grey. Underside of tail black and white. Iris varying from golden yellow to light orange. Orbital skin dark purplish blue. Bill blackish often with purple tinge, paler toward tip. Legs purplish red
Race arenicola slightly smaller and paler, and hoggara richly colored with broad, deep orange-buff fringes to wing coverts, head and rump feathers with sandy tips. In rufescens, male mainly rich dark sandy orange on crown and upperpars with breast deep pink, whereas famale paler with lighter pink breast often suffused with buff.

Listen to the sound of Turtle-Dove


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 47 cm wingspan max.: 53 cm
size min.: 24 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 3   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Eurasia : West, Central


Wide variety of woodland types, as well as steppe and semi-desert. Does not inhabit unbroken forests, preferring forest borders, open woodland and heath with tree clumps.
Avoids windy cloudy and wet regions preferring sunny, dry and sheltered areas, also avoids mountains.
Common in forests of holm oak and cork oak, open red juniper and forests interspersed with farms, also olive groves and date-palm oases in parts of its range.


May in Europe. Nest is flimsy platform of small twigs, lined with grass stems or roots and leaves, placed in a tree, shrub or hedge. occasionally uses old nests of other birds. 2 eggs, incubation 15 days.
Has a refractory period (when unresponsive to stimuli) following breeding, unique among all pigeons so far studied. First breeding at 1 year old.

Feeding habits

Diet based on seeds and fruits of weeds and cereals. Seeds taken include those of Brassica, Chenopodium, Fumaria, Helianthus, Medicago and Triticum.
Berries and fungi are occasionally eaten, also earthworms, some insects and small snails. Although largely arboreal, finds most of its food on the ground.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Turtle-Dove status Least Concern


Migratory, with possible exception of some Saharan breeding birds. Essentially a summer visitor to Palearctic, wintering in Africa: in semi-arid Soudanian and savanna zones from Senegal and Guinea to Sudan and Ethiopia, and as far south as northern Ghana and northern Cameroun.
Leaves European breeding areas late July to September (adults and juveniles together), with stragglers into October; passage broad-front (with south-westerly orientation in Eurasia), but also some suggestion of partial concentration for Mediterranean crossings. Migrants from western Europe recovered especially in south-west France and Iberia (but not Galicia), and enter Africa through Morocco. Many also cross Balkans and Italy at both seasons, to enter or leave Africa via Tunisia and Libya. On Malta, up to 20 000 per day at peak spring passage (fewer in autumn) and c. 100 000 shot there annually. Numerous oases records, sometimes involving large falls, show Sahara crossed at many points and probably on broad front. Most disappear from south of Sahara in March and first half of April, though small numbers summer there. Main northward passage through Mediterranean in second half of April, with breeding areas reoccupied during May.

Distribution map

Turtle-Dove distribution range map

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