Thursday, 12 July 2012

Turtle Doves - one month in the garden

Turtle Dove pair, Shadoxhurst, Kent, June 2012
On a gloomy wet day exactly a month ago, a pair of Turtle Doves dropped down onto the lawn to join our local Wood pigeons, Collared Doves and finches for some loose bird seed - (coincidentally bought the same day).  That such a scarce bird would visit our garden seemed incredulous at the time.

Since then we've put plenty more seed down to entice them back again, and we've not been disappointed, with the birds making 3 to 4 visits a day. Turtle Doves, just like their commoner cousins can't resist a crop full of seed!

Like Collared Doves, if you can sit still in the garden (on those rare days when you can), the Turtle Doves will join you, and forage around the lawn, all be it at an arm's length. They are easily flushed though, a reflection on a window, a mad teenager zooming up and down on a mountain bike, any activity in a neighbours' garden, all will keep the birds away.

In the garden, they look half the size of a Wood Pigeon and significantly smaller than the Collared Doves too.  They prefer to stay in shade and dappled light and feed with their bodies low and horizontal to the ground.

As the weeks have gone by, we've been expecting great things from our star Doves, as we believe they're breeding not too far away. When the birds first appeared they were always close together, following each other around the lawn, and if disturbed, both flying away very close to each other too.

After the fourth day visit, the birds were shamelessly mating on the lawn in the same fashion as your typical feral pigeon does in the town park! Following that day, for two weeks, the birds have been alternating time in the garden to feed up on seed.

For the last week, both birds have again occasionally visited together, leading us to think that perhaps that there are some fledglings not too far away. Could it be possible that we will have a family of Turtle Doves together in the garden - perhaps the coming week will have the answer.

Slightly Bluish Crown - identifies the male bird (above and 2 images below)

The female bird has a browner plumage and a yellow tip on the bill - otherwise its hard to separate the two birds


Ploddingbirder said...

Superb images Nick. You are really privileged to have the Turtle Doves visiting your garden.

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