Turtle Dove Bird Information & Facts

The purring call of the turtle dove may be heard on a warm April or May day, announcing its return from winter quarters in far-off tropical Africa. This species is plentiful throughout all of Europe, except Scandinavia, and is found also in northwest Africa and western Asia.

Turtle dove on branch

Length: 27 cm. The male and female have like plumage.
Voice: A long-drawn-out’ roor-r-r’.
Size of Egg: 27.0—34.6 X 20.0—24.6 mm. The eggs are pure white.

Turtle dove bird habitat

The turtle dove frequents thin mixed woods with under-growth, field groves, thickets alongside rivers, streams and ponds, as well as parks with thick growths. During the courtship flight, the male soars into the air, before gliding down with tail feathers spread wide.


The nest, a simple structure of dry sticks and twigs arranged haphazardly on top of each other, is built by both partners, generally 1 to 5 metres above the ground, in bushes and treetops.


The two eggs are incubated 14 to 16 days by both parents and both feed the young with ‘pigeon’s milk’, regurgitated from the crop during the first few days. Later the diet consists of various half-digested seeds and grain. The young leave the nest at the age of 14 to 16 days but continue to be fed by the parent birds a short while longer. When the first brood is fully mature, the adult birds have a second, usually in June or July.


The turtle dove leaves the woods to visit fields in search of food, and in late summer they gather in small groups in the fields before leaving for the south. The turtle dove is considered a game bird in many countries, but is of little importance to hunters. Agile and swift in flight, it is adept at darting between branches in the treetops, and often eludes an attacking falcon.

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