The search for the turtle dove

I live in the Middle East. That means that I am subject to an array of wondrous birds that are classified as passage migrants and winter visitors here. They come from Europe in winter and Africa in spring

As winter comes to a close, we will soon be seeing passage migrants. Of them is an elusive and rare creature - the European turtle dove. Where I live, the best window of opportunity to see this threatened migrator is throughout April and early May

So I ask, to those who have encountered this bird, what types of location do you advise me to visit so I can see the dove? Would I be alright in an urban setting? A grassy roundabout? A park? The desert?

1 Like

after having a look, most observations are from urban areas. However I feel this is probably just because there are more people observing them there rather than more doves being there? overall I feel you have a pretty good chance in most parks/fields and any spots they may rest along there flight path. it may pay to keep a eye on recent turtle dove observation nearer you so you can search places were they have been and may prefer/still be. although I am no expert and live on the other side of the world… hope I helped.

1 Like

If you live in the vicinity of Doha (as you mention being from Qatar in your profile), your best bet seems to be grassy areas right near the coast. This is based only on a handful of eBird observations by one Jaffar Sathick (no iNaturalist observations from here unfortunately), but it would make sense, as such areas likely provide an optimal rest stop for birds that have just flown across the Persian Gulf.


Met them 1. feeding in a steppe 2. flying over pine plantation 3. young flying in my village out of nowhere. So, I agree checking the best spots to rest is a good idea plus you need luck!

1 Like

@ vengefulcamel Take a look:

1 Like

So far in my country there are no observations of this species, however field guides and observations outside of iNaturalist have proven that the species is found here.
I am just making sure to see anyone with experience in watching this species to see where I am most likely to spot one once their migration begins

I greatly appreciate your help

I have considered the Corniche which is full of walkways. There’s also al bidaa park which is also near the coast and frequented by birdwatchers. I will plan on going in early May (religiously convenient I guess) which according to my field guide is still within their period here.

1 Like

Looks like the greatest concentration is in the capital. There are plenty of parks there

Looks like I won’t be counting on looking at barbed wire or pigeons in the city. I guess I’ll have to go looking for the dove instead of waiting for it to see me

1 Like

Probably thats due to the greatest concentration of visiting observers. It seems Mr. Jaffar Sathick is the only resident observer in the region.

1 Like

E-Bird indicates that September and October may also be good months to see them in your area.

The animated weekly abundance map may be useful for you in planning:

The Biological Assessment portion of the 2017 Action Plan for the European Turtle Dove has portions on their habitat requirements and such that may also be useful. The plan is focused mainly on Europe, but the information is applicable all through the range.


I have that marked on my book too, however it was published in 2010 when the dove was a far more abundant species and I was afraid that i am much less likely to see it in autumn than I already am. I had decided spring, especially since I am likely to meet other passage migrants

Thank you for the information

You could concentrate on searching in areas with low-growing weedy plants where there are abundant seeds. I have no experience with the species on passage, but they still (just about) breed round here and where I used to live. Good cover (scrub, trees) near the food source is important, and in your part of the world water is probably a major draw: there ought to be other passage migrants to find in similar places.

Your problem in spring may be that the push to return north means that birds spend as little time as possible recharging/refuelling before continuing to migrate; in autumn there sems to be less rush and there are also less experienced young birds around, which can often linger in one place for a decent length of time.

Best of luck!


I have found eBird moving migration maps quite accurate.


Awesome, that seems like a great habitat for them! Hope you’re successful!

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.