European Turtle-dove

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Common Name: European Turtle-dove
Scientific Name: Streptopelia turtur

Size: 17 inches (27cm)

Habitat: Europe, Asia and Africa; a migratory species with a southern Palearctic range, including Turkey and north Africa, though it is rare in northern Scandinavia and Russia; it winters in southern Africa.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 20,000,000 - 100,000,000 Mature individuals. According to the State of Europe's Common Birds 2007 report, the Turtle Dove population in Europe has fallen by 62% in recent times. This is partly because changed farming practices mean that the weed seeds and shoots on which it feeds, especially Fumitory, are scarcer, and partly due to shooting of birds during migration in Mediterranean countries.

Diet: Seeds from native plants.

Breeding: Male and female look alike. The nuptial flight, high and circling, is rather like that of the Common Wood Pigeon, but the undulations are less decided; it is accompanied by the whip-crack of the downward flicked wings. They built nests of twigs and sticks in the canopy and lay 2 to 3 eggs.

Cool Facts: The arrival in spring is heralded by its purring song, a rather deep, vibrating “turrr, turrr”, from which the bird's name is derived. Despite the identical spelling, the "turtle" of the name, derived from Latin turtur, has no connection with the reptile, "turtle" in that case coming originally from Late Latin tortuca.

The Turtle Dove, one of the latest migrants, rarely appears in Northern Europe before the end of April, returning south again in September, but is often seen in April.

Biblical references (especially the well-known verse from the Song of Songs), along with its mournful voice, and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds, Turtle Doves have become emblems of devoted love. In the New Testament, a two turtle doves are mentioned to have been sacrificed for the Birth of Jesus In Renaissance Europe the Turtle Dove was envisaged as the devoted partner of the phoenix. Robert Chester's poem Love's Martyr is a sustained exploration of this symbolism. It was published along with other poems on the subject, including William Shakespeare's poem "The Phoenix and the Turtle" (where "turtle" refers to the turtle dove).

Turtle Doves also feature in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", as the gift "my true love gives to me" on the second day of Christmas; by the end of the song, she ends up with 22 of them.

Found in Songbird ReMix European Edition 2

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