Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

Key facts

Scientific name:Streptopelia turtur

Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding birds: 14,000 territories

Conservation status: Red

Length: 26 – 28 cm

Wingspan: 47 – 53 cm

Weight: 130 – 180 g


Adult male turtle doves have grey upperparts with chestnut brown and black scales. Their rump and lower back is grey tinged with blue. Their flight feathers are dark grey with white borders. They have pinkish-grey underparts with with a white throat and belly. Their flanks are light grey and the undertail is black and white.

Turtle doves have blue-grey heads with a darker crown and nape and they have a black and white striped patch on the side of their heads. Their eyes are light orange with a dark pink eye ring and they have pink legs and feet. Female turtle doves look similar to males but may be duller.

Juveniles look similar to females but they have no patch on their neck.


Turtle doves build a loose platform of twigs lined with grass and leaves in a tree or a shrub 2-3 metres from the ground.

Turtle doves lay 2 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 2 weeks. The chicks fledge 20 days after hatching.


Turtle doves eat mainly seeds but will supplement their diet with berries, fungi and occasionally insects, snails and worms.

Turtle Dove

Where to see them

Turtle doves are found mainly in the south east of England on the edges of woodland and in open land with bushes and shrubs during the summer. Passage birds can be spotted in north east Scotland.



Did you know?

Turtle doves are mentioned in the Song of Solomon. ‘The time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land’ was quoted by Detroit Tigers sportscaster Ernie Harwell before the start of each spring season.

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