Oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis)

Immature Oriental turtle-dove in first autumn plumage
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Oriental turtle-dove fact file

Oriental turtle-dove description

GenusStreptopelia (1)

The oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis), also known as the rufous turtle-dove, is most easily identified by the distinctive patch of black and whitish stripes on either side of its neck (4) (5). The oriental turtle-dove’s upperparts are reddish-brown (6), with some of the wing feathers having almost black centres and whitish or reddish edges, resulting in an overall ‘scaly’ appearance (5) (7). The underparts are pinkish and the dark tail feathers are tipped with pale grey. The feet are red and the bill is grey (4).

It is hard to distinguish between the male and female oriental turtle-dove (6). However, juveniles usually lack the distinctive neck patches and are paler in colour (5).

The call of the oriental turtle-dove is a four-note ‘croo croo-croo crooo(4) (8).

Also known as
Oriental turtle dove, rufous turtle dove.
Length: 33 - 35 cm (2)
Wingspan: 55 cm (3)
165 - 274 g (2)

Oriental turtle-dove biology

The oriental turtle-dove forages on the ground (8) for cereal, pine seeds, herbs and plant shoots, but it has also been observed raiding paddy fields (2).  Like other pigeons and doves, the oriental turtle-dove drinks frequently (6), consuming up to 15 percent of its body weight in water every day (11)

The timing of the breeding season of the oriental turtle-dove depends on the location. In the north of the species’ range, breeding takes place between May and August, while in South India the breeding season is between November and February (2). The male oriental turtle-dove performs a display to attract a mate, flying up in the air and then gliding back down with the wings and tail stretched outwards (6). After mating, a nest is constructed from twigs in a bush or tree at a height of no greater than five metres. Each nest usually holds 2 eggs which are incubated for 15 to 16 days. The chicks leave the nest after 15 to 17 days (2).

In winter, oriental turtle-dove populations from North Asia migrate to areas further south (2), and large flocks may form as it undertakes this considerable journey (8). The majority of oriental turtle-doves from South Asia, however, do not migrate (2).


Oriental turtle-dove range

The oriental turtle-dove is widely distributed throughout Asia, from Japan and Taiwan, through China, to the Himalayas, India and Sri Lanka. Populations in the northern parts of the range migrate southwards for winter (4) (9). Individuals have sometimes strayed to Alaska, while sightings elsewhere in North America are likely to be birds that have escaped from captivity (10).


Oriental turtle-dove habitat

The oriental turtle-dove occupies a variety of habitats and has been found as high as 4,000 metres in Nepal (2). During the breeding season forest habitats are preferred, but at other times of the year this bird is often observed in cultivated fields and open areas where there are trees for shelter and a plentiful supply of seeds and grain (6).


Oriental turtle-dove status

The oriental turtle-dove is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Oriental turtle-dove threats

The oriental turtle-dove has an exceptionally large range and an apparently stable population, and is not known to be facing any significant threats (12).


Oriental turtle-dove conservation

No specific conservation action has been targeted at the common oriental turtle-dove.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Wu, C.P., Horng, Y.M., Wang, R.T., Yang, K.T. and Huang, M.C. (2007) A novel sex-specific DNA marker in Columbidae birds. Theriogenology, 67(2): 328-333.
  4. Mackinnon, J. and Phillipps, K. (2000) A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Peterson, R.T., Mountfort, G. and Hollum, P.A.D. (2001) A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.
  6. Whistler, H. (1941) Popular Handbook of Indian Birds. Gurney and Jackson, London.
  7. Dunn, J.L. and Alderfer, J. (2006) Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington D.C.
  8. Strange, M. (2003) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia: Including the Philippines and Borneo. Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd, London.
  9. Shrestha, T.K. (2001) Birds of Nepal: Field Ecology, Natural History and Conservation. Bimala Shrestha, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  10. Kaufman, K. (1996) Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
  11. Sibley, D.A. (2003) The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Knopf, New York.
  12. BirdLife International (November, 2010)

Image credit

Immature Oriental turtle-dove in first autumn plumage  
Immature Oriental turtle-dove in first autumn plumage

© Harri Taavetti / www.flpa-images.co.uk

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