Save turtle doves


This video from Britain is called WILDLIFE FILES: TURTLE DOVES.

From Wildlife Extra:

New scheme to halt the catastrophic decline of Turtle Doves

Providing additional food sources could help halt the dramatic decline in turtle dove numbers, according to the British Ecological Society and the Société Française d’Ecologie.

At a recent conference, researchers from the two organisations outlined how agri-environment schemes that encourage farmers to include areas containing early-seeding arable plants on their land can provide crucial sources of food for many birds, including turtle doves.

By planting these seed-rich plants as widely as possible, they said, farmers may also help reduce the spread of parasites between the birds.

Dr Jenny Dunn and colleagues from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the University of Leeds have studied Turtle Doves across south east England over a four year period.

The research, funded jointly by RSPB and Natural England through the Action for Birds in England (AfBiE) partnership, seeks effective solutions for the bird that is in the fastest decline in England.

It involved attaching small radio tags to breeding adults so that they could track where the birds were nesting and feeding.

During the study, the researchers detected high levels of the parasite Trichomonas gallinae in Turtle Doves, which cause trichomonosis lesions and death in both adult and nestling birds.

Dr Dunn says: “Currently, our study is investigating whether we can combat food shortage and disease by providing seed food in the wider countryside.

“For example, having more food sources may allow the adult birds to spend more time caring for their offspring instead of searching for food.

“As the Trichomonas parasite is spread through infected food and water, having more suitable food patches that are spread out over a wide area might also reduce the concentrations of birds feeding on a small number of food-rich patches, and thus the risk of infection.

“If our analysis confirms a direct link between food availability and health and reproductive success, we believe that it may be possible to reverse the population trend of this species through agri-environment scheme measures that provide more seed during the breeding season.”

The Turtle Dove is smaller and darker than the Collared Dove. Its upperparts are distinctively mottled with chestnut and black, and its black tail has a white edge.

The Turtle Dove’s gentle purr is an evocative sound of summer, but has become increasingly rare following rapid and sustained population declines.

UK Turtle Dove populations have declined by 95 per cent since 1970. Numbers across Europe have fallen 75 per cent since 1980.

One contributing factor has been the loss of food sources that occurs when farmers move to intensive, monoculture of a limited number of crops without allowing arable plants to grow around field margins.

In England, the new agri-environment scheme Countryside Stewardship, set for launch in early 2015, will provide the tools that farmers need to mitigate these impacts.

This research provides the first promising signs that the Turtle Dove seed plots funded through this scheme could have a real impact on breeding success.

Tom Lancaster, RSPB Agriculture Policy Officer said: “Turtle Doves are one of our most iconic farmland birds.

“This research provides a ray of hope that a solution may be at hand to stem the drastic declines we have seen over the last few decades.

“Farmers have a vital role to play in this, and by adopting these measures through this new scheme they could help brink this bird back from the brink.”

Turtle doves in Drenthe, the Netherlands: here. In the Netherlands: here.

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