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Turtle Doves in a Changing Landscape

The habitat preferences of a disappearing species

In the Netherlands, the only factor that we can directly influence is breeding range habitat loss. This 2-year project aims to answer some key research questions and communicate our findings to a wider public. In addition, it addresses several objectives and actions set out in the International Single Species Action Plan for the turtle dove.


Project Focus

The focus of this project is on gaining insight into the daily foraging behaviour and habitat preferences of turtle doves breeding in Zeeland. In addition, data will be gathered during their migration/overwintering period which will be available upon each bird’s return to its breeding grounds in the spring.


Research Questions

  • What small scale movements do turtle doves make in the breeding season in the Zak van Zuid-Beveland?

  • Do the tagged turtle doves have a territory? If so, what habitat is it and what landscape features are present/absent?

  • What land use/s do the foraging turtle doves prefer?

  • Where is turtle dove activity the most concentrated within foraging sites? And what are the possible reasons for this?

  • During the breeding season, are there any trends in foraging site choice over time?

  • If nesting locations are identified, what can we say regarding their nesting habitat requirements?

  • If nesting locations are identified, how does an active nest impact foraging site choice?

Five turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) were caught and equipped with accurate GPS loggers, taking coordinates at fixed intervals. This information was stored and downloaded periodically using a base station. The data has been analysed to provide a detailed insight into how these doves use the landscape on a daily basis to forage, nest and roost.




This project has Facebook and Twitter pages where you can find the latest photos, news and updates.

Occasional articles are written for newsletter and local newspapers.

Two reports will be published for this project: a mid-project report (Spring 2020) will give a preliminary analysis of data collected in 2019, and a final report will analyse data collected in the breeding seasons 2019 and 2020.

The final report is available below (from Spring 2021 ).

Project Development

Development of this project was in collaboration with SOVON, NIOO Vogeltrekstation, Justus Liebig University Giessen (Germany), and the University of Groningen. This includes all aspects of the project such as training, approved catching/tagging techniques, bird safety and data analysis.

This research is financed by Het Zeeuwse Landschap and the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds

It is conducted with the support and advice from SOVON Vogelonderzoek Nederland, Het Zeeuwse Landschap, Rijks Universiteit Groningen and the Justus Liebig University Giessen (Germany)

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