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  • Writer's pictureSuffolk Bird Group

Operation Turtle Dove in Suffolk

The Turtle Dove was once widespread across much of England and Wales, the Turtle Dove has shown large population declines in recent years. Figures from the British Trust for Ornithology Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show a population decline of 96% in England since 1970, and the decline is not slowing. At current rates of decline the turtle dove could be extinct as a breeding bird in the country by 2021. East Anglia remains a stronghold for turtle doves within the UK, with 16.8% of the remaining population being in Suffolk.

Turtle Dove (Photo: B. Baston)

Recently SOG has signed up to a Suffolk steering group along with several other organisations. The Suffolk steering group has been formed to help ensure advisory, monitoring and communications work in the county is coordinated to ensure best possible use is made of local opportunities to deliver turtle dove habitat. It will gather local expertise and make sure solutions are locally relevant and widely disseminated. It will also provide a forum for ideas and discussion, which will be used to inform action taken by the over-arching national OTD partnership.

Operation Turtle Dove is a project which aims to reverse the decline of one of England’s best loved farmland birds, the turtle dove. The project partners are the RSPB, Conservation Grade, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, and Natural England. Together, we aim to identify the primary causes of turtle dove population declines and develop urgent practical solutions.

Operation Turtle Dove comprises of three parts:

building on research into the Turtle Dove breeding grounds in Englandestablishing feeding habitat over core breeding range through advisory and farmer initiativesresearch into factors operating during migration and at wintering areas

For more information, please visit or contact:

Samantha Lee

Turtle Dove Conservation Adviser, Eastern England

To report turtle dove sightings:

Please include the following information for sightings:


Location (grid reference if possible)

Abundance (count numbers e.g. individual, pair etc)

Type of record / status (confirmed breeding, possible breeding, calling, feeding)

Any other information that may be helpful

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