Back in ancient times dove was considered a symbol of love, purity, peace. This graceful bird with a curious character can be found not only on the street, but also in a human dwelling - it has taken one of the main places in the rating of pets. Thanks to the interesting exterior, the neck is a regular in all sorts of contests and exhibitions of pigeons.
Origin of view and description
Streptopelia is a genus of birds from a small family of pigeons. From ancient Greek, its name translates as "dove with a necklace."
The Streptopelia subfamily includes 16 separate species, and only 5 of them are found in Russia:
- ringed turtledove;
- small turtledove.
All 16 species form a fairly uniform group of birds with common features. The closest relatives of pigeons and doves were dodoes, which became extinct in the 17th century due to human faults. For all time, the researchers found very few fossil remains of these birds. There was an opinion that doves, like all pigeons, have family ties with parrots and grouse. However, later, after a more thorough analysis of the evolutionary chain, the researchers agreed that the cause of the outward similarity of these birds was convergent evolution, a similar feeding pattern, and not general evolution.
Streptopelia, wild pigeons were domesticated more than 5 thousand years ago. Some varieties were bred only for decorative purposes, while others found practical application. The first mention of these birds was found in the sacred texts in the description of the global flood.
Interesting fact: Laughing turtledove is a cell bird and in nature this species is not known.
Appearance and features
Photo: What looks like a turtledove
The turtledove is a bird that is very similar to an ordinary blue dove, but more elegant, with a characteristic color for each species. Depending on the variety, the body length of an adult can reach 23-35 centimeters, and weight 120-300 grams. The turtledove differs from the pigeon not only in its elegance, but also in its rounded tail and red legs.
The plumage of the upper body of the Streptopelia vulgaris is colored in brown tones, some feathers have white, beige edges. The neck of the bird is decorated with black and white stripes, which are very similar to a necklace. Streptopelia relate to newborn birds and their upper jaw can move freely relative to the entire skull. Eye color is combined with plumage, can be either black or dark red.
Features of the appearance of some species of doves:
- the big neck is the largest representative of this genus. The average body length of adults is 34-35 cm, and weight is about 300 grams. It is easy to recognize a large turtledove by its brown upper body and pinkish abdomen. The black and white necklace is strongly shifted back;
- ringed - this species has a longer tail, which can equal half the total body length and reach 14-16 cm. The smoky pink color of the head, neck and chest is combined with a gray back. The necklace of the ringed neck is very bright;
- diamond - lives only in Australia, and in Russia it is found exclusively at home. This variety is small in size - about 20 centimeters with a weight of not more than 50 grams. The plumage is ash-blue with a scattering of white spots, and the outer side of the wings is painted in dark gray;
- sexual dimorphism is not characteristic of the dove, only sometimes males differ in larger sizes.
Where does the turtledove live?
Photo: Gorlitsa in Russia
Streptopelia are widely distributed worldwide. They inhabit all of Eurasia, Africa, some species were introduced into Australia, America and successfully took root there. Over the past 100 years, the ringed turtledove has significantly expanded its habitat and continues to occupy new territories, preferring the anthropogenic landscape.
The habitat of a turtledove depends on its type: spotted, ringed, large turtledove and several other species love to settle in city parks, squares, in the attics of residential buildings closer to humans, but can be found in forests. For small-necked town, the city is the only habitat, it is not afraid of people, it is very easily tamed.
Emerald, wild laughing turtledo, African live exclusively in deciduous or mixed forests away from settlements. It is very important for these birds to have free access to any body of water. Representatives of the northern habitat winter in Africa, mainly in the Sahara and Sudan. Gorlinki, who live in countries with a warm climate, do not perform annual migrations and lead a sedentary lifestyle.
An interesting fact: Some species of doves, living in settlements, often place their nests right at traffic lights, poles in the middle of busy city streets and they are not at all afraid of the noise of transport.
What does the turtledove eat?
Photo: Bird of Streptopelia
Among the doves, there are absolute vegetarians and prefer mixed food.
The usual diet of these birds may include:
- many types of insects, including parasites that are dangerous to humans and animals;
- small invertebrates, insect larvae;
- hemp, wheat, buckwheat grains;
- seeds of alder, birch, other trees and shrubs.
A favorite delicacy of many species of these birds is sunflower. Gorlinki can cause significant damage to crops, completely pecking seeds from the baskets of this oilseed crop. Other bird grains are harvested exclusively from the surface of the earth, without disturbing the plants themselves. Despite the fact that throats can sometimes attack sunflower crops, they can also help farmers by pecking weed seeds that “strangle” crops.
When breeding in an aviary, the birds are unpretentious in nutrition and do not differ in particular voracity, but they need a sufficiently large amount of water to drink daily, since without it they can not survive even a day.
An interesting fact: among the Slavic peoples, the appearance of a pair of dovesnuts next to the dwelling is considered a favorable sign promising a quick resolution of all existing problems. The first postman birds were also Streptopelia, and not an ordinary pigeon.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Common Dove
These birds of paradise are not just considered a symbol of love and fidelity. Having formed a pair, gorlinki remain faithful to their partner all their lives. Some species of these birds after the death of the "spouse" never connect with other partners and refuse to continue the genus.
Streptopelia differ in constancy in the choice of a place for laying eggs. They return to the same nest from year to year, but on the condition that the predators could not get to it. Both parents hatch the chicks. Migratory species of doves in late summer or early September migrate to the African continent in small groups of two dozen individuals, and return only to May.
Interesting fact: All the turtledoves are big "talkers." They constantly coo, walk, laugh, make various sounds, but they always do it very loudly. This feature is one of the few disadvantages for their home maintenance.
Gorlinki are very sensitive to stress. If a bird living in an aviary is frightened, it will beat against the cage with such force that injuries cannot be avoided. They can also not be let out of the cage so that they freely fly around the room, because due to stress they begin to fly at great speed and crash into furniture, walls. In the natural habitat, the birds are calmer.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Ringed Dove
In one season, the turtledove can make several clutches of 1-2 eggs, especially those individuals that live in warmer climates. The nesting period of these birds lasts a long time. It often happens that some couples already incubate eggs, while others are just starting to build a nest. These birds nest at the edges, in a forest belt, parks.
Their flat and not very strong nests are usually located on the branches of trees, among their roots, in the bush, but there may be completely unexpected places - a lamppost, fence or traffic light. For their construction, throats use brushwood, grass, and in a city it can even be wire.
Interesting fact: Necktails are not built every year, preferring to use one for several years in a row. Each year the nests become stronger, as the litter of the chicks acts like cement.
A couple of doves have hatched eggs in turn for 14-16 days. Chicks appear completely helpless. Parents take care of them for a long time and selflessly protect, without leaving the nest to the end, even with great danger. Young growth usually takes to the wing by the end of the third week of life, then the chicks quickly become independent. They knock together in flocks consisting of 8-10 individuals and are ready for breeding in a year.
Natural enemies of the turtledove
Photo: What does an eaglet look like?
Under natural conditions, the turtles live for about 6-7 years and most often die in the claws or jaws of predators.
They have a lot of enemies:
- almost all birds of prey;
- foxes, dogs, cats and other predators that can hunt both adults and young animals, bust nests.
Some species of doves are subject to hunting. A large number of chicks die in the first week after birth. They often fall out of the nests, and since they don’t know how to fly, they become someone else’s prey and their parents cannot help them in any way. It is because of the low survival rate of young animals that many doves carry out not one, but several clutches per season.
Man can also be called the enemy of these birds of paradise. For many decades, active species traditional hunting was carried out for some species of doves, especially in the places of their wintering, where they flew in large numbers. Human activities also have a negative impact on their population. Fields are processed with various chemicals, and since grain is included in the usual diet of these birds, they suffer the very first.
Interesting fact: In artificially created conditions, doves can live up to the age of twenty and regularly give offspring.
Population and species status
Photo: Bird Eaglet
In the middle of the last century, the population of Streptopelia on the territory of Russia was estimated by ornithologists at 1.7-2.9 million individuals, and today their number has decreased by more than half. In some regions of the country, only single pairs of these birds are found. Despite the catastrophically rapid decline in the turtle dove population, it has not yet been listed in the Red Book of Russia, and is protected only in a number of regions. Specialists are sounding the alarm, trying to draw attention to that problem. The turtledove was even declared a bird of 2019.
According to ornithologists, in order to save the population, Streptopelia need to breed as many chicks as possible, and for this it is necessary to create favorable conditions in their nesting places. This species should be intensely guarded in wintering regions on the territory of Russia, a ban should be introduced on the shooting of doves, until their numbers cease to decline at such an alarming rate.
An interesting fact: Ornithologists say that crossing wild doves and domestic pigeons is inadmissible, as the kinship will lead to dangerous mutations with a fatal outcome. Birds form pairs on their own, and there is no need to intervene in this process. In addition, the life expectancy of wild doves is significantly longer than that of pigeons, which means that their chicks can completely change the entire gene system, which is very undesirable.
Turtle Dove - This is an extraordinary bird with a noble past. She enjoyed special veneration for many thousands of years, but today this peaceful creature is in danger. The turtledove has always been close to the person, and whether this will continue further depends on our generation and our efforts to protect it.