Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)


The European Turtle Dove is around 27 centimetres in length. It may be recognised by its brown colour, and the black-and-white-striped patch on the side of its neck. The mature bird has a blue grey head, neck, flanks, and rump, and cinnamon wings mottled with black. The abdomen and under tail coverts are white. The bill is black, the legs and eye rims are red. The black and white patch on the side of the neck is absent in the browner and duller juvenile bird, which also has brown legs


Found in a variety of semi-open habitats, including agricultural land with scattered hedgerows and brush, open grassy areas with scattered shrubs and trees, forest and woodland edges and clearings. They avoid unbroken forest or other areas of dense continuous vegetative cover.


Feeds mainly on the seeds of grains and weeds, but will also feed on fruits, berries, insects, and small invertebrates such as snails and earthworms.

Protection status

This species is listed asvulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

The Turtle dove was sacred to Demeter, the Goddess of grain, agriculture, harvest, growth and nourishment according to Ancient Greek mythology.The Turtle Dove is featured in numerous folk songs about love and loss, one by the renowned Ralph Vaughan Williams.The Turtle Doves are featured in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, as the gift ‘my true love gives to me’ on the second day.

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