Thursday, December 15, 2011

European Turtledove

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two Turtledoves...

Streptopelia turtur
Day two introduces us to the European Turtledove, a mostly-migratory member of the Pigeon family that lives in Europe during the spring and summer, and Africa during the autumn and winter. They can also be found as far east as China, and some populations that live in warmer areas (North Africa for example) remain there year round.

Do you know where Turtledoves get their name? It has nothing to do with a reptilian connection! It actually comes from their Latin species name turtur, which describes the purring sounds that they make.

It's a good thing there are two Turtledoves gifted in the song, because these birds live in pairs throughout the breeding season. Both sexes help to incubate the eggs, and the young Doves are off and on their own after only 20 days!

Outside of the breeding season the Turtledoves tend to live in large flocks. Groups that number into the thousands can be found at wintering sites in Africa! They forage for food in groups, and feed on nuts, seeds, fruits, and the occasional invertebrate.

European Turtledoves are listed as being of least concern because they have an incredibly massive range and a humongous worldwide population. In 2004 it was estimated that there were between 10 and 20 million birds just in Europe, and Europe only constitutes a fragment of the overall group. Numbers could be as high as 100 million! They are the most common native Dove on the entire European continent.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe, Africa
Size : Length up to 11in (29cm), Wingspan up to 22in (58cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Columbiformes
Family : Columbidae -- Genus : Streptopelia -- Species : S. turtur

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