Research in the Netherlands

During the last decade, migration studies have been set up in the UK, Germany, France and Spain, and occasional research studies have investigated Turtle Dove ecology using radio tags. In the Netherlands there is little to no research regarding localised foraging and nesting habitat, and no research regarding their migration route to Africa.

If we know more about the habitat selection of Turtle Doves, field measures can be tailored to help the species in the Netherlands

The details of three research projects being carried out in Zeeland, a province in the south-west of the Netherlands, can be found below.


Foraging Fields for Turtle Doves:

Testing the effectiveness of bespoke field measures


One of the greatest problems facing turtle doves is the loss of suitable foraging habitat in their breeding areas. Particularly earlier in the year, when exhausted doves are returning from Africa, they are faced with a shortage of seed. This prevents them being able to build up their body condition quickly - something that needs to happen before they can start breeding.

Research in Zeeland (2019/2020), showed turtle doves to be heavily reliant on seed made available through human activities, such as spilled or stored seed earlier in the breeding season, and fallen seed among crop stubble later in the season, after harvest. This likely reflects a shortage of wild seed. Additionally, project turtle doves weren't using the existing agri-environment scheme field margins present in the area.

The creation of suitable foraging habitat, providing seed throughout the year, could greatly benefit turtle doves. It would  bridge the food shortage gap in May, and would help worn-out turtle doves reach breeding condition sooner.

This research will test the effectiveness of bespoke foraging fields for turtle doves. If successful, these fields have the potential to be adopted into the agri-environment scheme in the Netherlands, and rolled out to help turtle doves in all areas where remnant populations still exist.

For more information regarding this research, please click the link below.


Two major factors causing the population decline in Turtle Dove are habitat loss in their wintering range, and unsustainable trapping and hunting (both legal and illegal). Learning more about when and how our Turtle Doves migrate to Africa and overwinter can equip us with knowledge that could lead to international change for the species. Do they follow the same route as German or British Turtle Doves? Imagine we find out that they need to stop in Malta, Spain or Morocco, where hunting is still legal at that time of year. Imagine we find out that a key wintering area is under threat. By being able to back up international and political issues with hard data makes the case for Turtle Doves much stronger than it would otherwise be.

While migration studies have been carried out in several countries in Western Europe, no research has been done on birds from the Netherlands. The “Journey Fraught with Dangers” project will be using satellite technology to follow two Turtle Doves from Zeeland on migration, providing us with live information on the dove’s whereabouts.

For more information regarding this research, please click the link below.

A Journey Fraught with Dangers:

The migration route of a disappearing species



In 2019, the "Turtle Doves in a Changing Landscape" research project was started. Of all the factors contributing to the decline of the Turtle Dove, habitat loss in their breeding range is the only factor we can directly influence in the Netherlands. For this reason, the main focus of this project is to gain insight into the daily foraging behaviour and habitat selection of the remaining Turtle Dove population in Zeeland. Only by knowing more about their habitat preferences and what they need can we make positive changes to our landscape that attempt to halt their population decline.

For more information regarding this research, please click the link below.

Turtle Doves in a Changing Landscape:

The daily movements and habitat preferences of a disappearing species