By this point in the holiday season, you have probably heard “The Twelve Days of Christmas” already. One of the most memorable lyrics from it is “…two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.” Instead of just singing about turtle doves, we figured it would be fun to learn a bit more about these birds!
European turtle doves, like the one pictured, are smaller than other dove species. They can grow up to eleven and a half inches in length, and their wingspan can be 21-22 inches long. They are brown, and on their necks you see a patch of black and white stripes.
These European turtle doves live in open wooded areas, and they eat on the ground. When there, they love to eat seeds. They also feast on fumitory, a plant with herbal qualities that help treat skin disease. It’s believed fumitory accounts for almost half of their diet!
When European turtle doves sing, the sound is a purr that sounds like “turr turr” when you hear it. As a matter of fact, that is how they got the name “turtle doves” — not from actual turtles. In case you ever wondered why you called the birds “turtle doves” every holiday season, then now you know! Be sure to let your friends know in case you go Christmas caroling this month!