North Yorkshire Conservation Story

Providing Food

Thanks to our unique independent North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Grant Scheme, managed by the North York Moors National Park, wildflower plots have been sown and/or cultivated by farmers especially for Turtle Doves. The plots are designed to grow important seed-bearing flowers such as Common Fumitory, Black Medick and Birds-foot Trefoil - three species which were once commonly found by the side of arable fields but are now increasingly rare.

Providing Nesting Habitat

Turtle Doves choose to nest in dense thickets of large shrubs, hedges and young conifer plantations. Young forestry plantations are plentiful in the forests of North Yorkshire, but large areas of scrub and big wide hedges are much scarcer. In order to ensure Turtle Doves spread to new areas we need to work with many landowners to increase this type of habitat. 

Providing Water

A reliable source of water is essential. Many doves and pigeons have developed a wonderful way of feeding their newly born chicks with a highly nutritious liquid formed in their crop. Turtle Doves produce this ‘crop milk’ but they need a nearby source of water to be able to produce it successfully for their young.

Thanks to the Natural England Nature Recovery Network funding – and, more recently, the Friends of Dalby and the new Birds on the Edge Project - we have been able to create and restore a series of ponds and drinking pools.

Conservation on the Flyway

Throughout the Turtle Dove's migration flyway, many dedicated conservationists are working tirelessly to help these beautiful birds. Alice Tribe - Conservation Officer for BirdLife Malta - describes some of the challenges they face. 

'Turtle Doves don’t just need protection at their breeding grounds in North Yorkshire, but they also require safe passage along their migration routes as well. Hunting (both legal and illegal) poses a threat to the species’ survival, but luckily, there are dedicated people working overseas who are doing their best to help Turtle Doves migrate safely.

For example, in Malta, the Turtle Dove can be shot legally in both the spring and autumn. Working on the ground, BirdLife Malta and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) investigate cases of illegal hunting, and trapping, of this species. They gather evidence to pass to the enforcement authorities, in the hope of a successful court case at the end. Both charities are against spring hunting, and the more evidence they gather of illegalities, the more lobbying power they have when it comes to influencing policy at EU level.

Thanks to their work, several hunters have received hefty fines and licence suspensions after they were caught hunting or trapping Turtle Doves illegally, see this story: CLICK HERE. Furthermore, BirdLife Malta have released numerous Turtle Doves back into the wild after they were confiscated and/or rehabilitated'.

Satellite tracking of migrating Turtle Doves is also providing some fascinating results. For a great example see this story: CLICK HERE