Skip to main content

laurenholland
26th December 2022

12 days of Christmas: Only two turtle doves left

Here we discuss the 2nd item in ’12 Days of Christmas’, the falling numbers of turtle doves in the UK and conservation efforts underway to reverse this decline
Categories:
TLDR
12 days of Christmas: Only two turtle doves left
Photo: Bruno Oliveira @ Unsplash

Turtle doves will not be a gift given by lovers this Christmas, as turtle dove numbers have plummeted by 98% in the UK, making them the fastest-declining species in the UK. These long-distance migratory doves usually spend the winter in sub-Saharan West Africa, then migrate to Europe for breeding. However, the loss of breeding grounds and unsustainable hunting practices have led to them becoming a highly-threatened species. A national survey recorded approximately 2,100 pairs of turtle doves in the UK in 2021, a steep decline from 125,000 in 1970.

Save the turtle doves

Conservation organisations have launched operations to combat these dwindling numbers and increase breeding. Operation Turtle Dove launched in 2012 by the RSPB aims to restore and create habitats for these birds to breed in the UK. This involves a collaboration between farmers, communities and volunteers to provide nesting and feeding habitats for turtle doves.

International efforts are also taking place to help restore the turtle dove numbers, with turtle dove hunting being banned in France, Spain and Portugal in 2021. Previously, it has been estimated that a million birds are shot each year in southwest Europe.

Save the rest too

However, turtle doves aren’t the only species in danger. Overall, there has been a decline of 13% in the average abundance of wildlife in the UK since the 1970s, with the response to this loss of natural wealth being ineffective and inadequate.

With only 0.022% of the country’s GDP spent on biodiversity funding, more needs to be done or it will not only be these birds of love that are declining.


More Coverage

Circadian rhythms of health: Why syncing with the environment is vital to wellbeing

Learn how circadian rhythms are the key to optimise your sleep, improve your mood and ace your exams

Ice, Ice, Maybe? The art of remembering and forgetting, from a roundworm’s ice bath

Love an ice bath? So do roundworms – because they can remember that they’ve just had one. The storing of memory is a complex phenomenon, but a recent study has found that roundworms can delay their forgetting of their memory if they’re placed on ice

What Game Theory reveals about the science of cooperation

Game theory is the science of competition and cooperation. It seeks to reveal the best strategies which bring you maximum gain. What does it show about life and the world around us?

Celebrating 70 years of science at CERN

As the 70th anniversary of CERN approaches, we investigate the origins and history of the organisation whilst asking questions about the future of the laboratory; what’s next? And how can it align its ambition for research with the modern world’s needs for sustainability?