RSPB-led turtle dove project launched
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Conservation Grade and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust have launched a three-year project intended to reverse a severe decline in the population numbers of the turtle dove after a fall of in excess of 90% in the period between 1997 and 2010. It is feared that the species could be extinct in the UK by as soon as 2020.
The turtle dove's diet relies heavily on the small seeds of wild plants, including clover, fumitory and vetch, that grow amongst crops. However, changes to farming practices have led to these flowers becoming increasingly rare in recent years and the birds have therefore experienced difficulty finding enough to eat. The project will see the team working with farmers to deliberately seed these plants on farmland in an attempt to provide the birds with more food.
Commenting, RSPB spokesperson Heather Griffiths said "We known that farms have to be modern and commercially successful. So we look at how to put in wild seed bird plots on less productive areas of the farm - perhaps corners of fields that are difficult to plough - where they can make a big difference to wildlife without having an impact on the productivity of the farm," and added that "If don't act now, we really could lose them from the UK completely."