Turtle Dove on a stone
Credit: Woodland Trust

Turtle Dove

2025 target

To maintain the population of turtle doves in the 7 highest priority Turtle Dove Friendly Zones by 2020 (out of a total of 13 TDFZs in the South East) and for activity to have begun in the remaining 6 Turtle Dove Friendly Zones.


The Turtle Dove is the UK’s fastest declining bird species and is threatened with global extinction (IUCN Red List of Endangered Species). Breeding populations, both in England and in Europe, have collapsed in recent decades and the decline is continuing.

The latest UK Breeding Bird Survey data shows a 93% fall in breeding abundance between 1995 and 2014. The species is now included on the UK Red List of Conservation Concern.


For species that are declining rapidly, the best option is to apply science-based conservation solutions in the areas where they still breed in reasonable densities. This means that the most effective conservation action will be delivered in the most effective places. For turtle doves, the RSPB has used Breeding Bird Atlas data to identify ‘Turtle Dove Friendly Zones’ and works with Natural England and local farmers to provide feeding habitat and supplementary feeding. We have good evidence to suggest that a lack of quality food is the primary cause of decline in turtle doves.