The beautiful, endangered European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur is our smallest and rarest dove. You’ve probably heard that in the UK, Turtle Doves are now mainly a bird of southern and south eastern England. But did you know that each spring this tiny powerhouse of a bird flies over 5,500 km to reach North Yorkshire from western Africa?
The North York Moors National Park, incorporating the Great Yorkshire Forest is now home to the only significant breeding population of this charismatic bird in the north of the UK. Smaller numbers extend south into the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (HHAONB).
European Turtle Doves are in big trouble. In the UK they've been on the Red List since 1996. Red is the highest conservation priority designation, with all species on this list requiring urgent action. Their population has declined in both the UK and Europe to such an extent there may now be fewer than 100 birds nesting in the whole of Yorkshire – and yet, only 50 years ago, it was classed as a fairly common bird here.
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