Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Rise and Rise of the Spotted Turtle Dove

A while ago now, I received an e-mail from a reader, who as it turned out, lives close by. She was enquiring whether there were two species of Turtle Doves in Tasmania, as she had a plain coloured bird as well as the 'ring necked turtle doves' in her garden. She had looked for references but couldn't find any information about the local species. I was able to tell her that we had only the one, the Spotted Turtle Dove, and by chance I found a 'spotless' dove in the garden the following day (first one I've ever photographed) and sent here a copy of the shot. She confirmed this was the same as her bird. The bird is a young Spotted, as you can see in the shot at top right. She also went on to mention that they were locally prolific.
As in other parts of Australia, the Spotted Turtle Dove is an introduced species. Locally they do seem to have increased fairly dramatically of late. I have put this down to what I call the "de-greening" of much of this suburb. Most of the blocks are the 'standard' quarter acre, that are now being infilled with multiple dwellings on each
block. The upshot of that is that there has been much thinning and removal of mature trees, often replaced by concrete or lawn. In the past, mainly during the Winter, we had goshawks and sparrowhawks, and even the occasional Australian Hobby, using the nearby trees as a launch pad for attacks on birds. On several occasions, I have seen Brown Goshawks chasing Turtle Doves. Coupled with their ability to breed almost year round, and that they are often fed by householders (I have to admit to doing so myself), and it's little wonder that they're doing so well. They do gather together at times, either to roost or to feed, although they rarely fly around in flocks. Locally I've seen as many as 30 feeding under mostly introduced trees, such as oaks. The oaks are in drives, so I presume they were eating crushed acorns. They do seem to be slowly increasing their distribution to outer Hobart suburbs, and to nearby towns. As there doesn't appear to be any native species in Tasmania that they're likely to be in competition with, they're unlikely to pose a threat.

1 comment:

Malcolm Taylor said...

When I came to Launceston in 2002 the only turtle doves were seen in Invermay on the east side of the Tamar River. About 5 years later I 'spotted' a turtle dove in Riverside on the west side of the river and then began to see one or two regularly. About 2 years later I walked out of my backdoor one morning and a turtle dove flew passed me. My home is in Riverside Nth about 3kms further down the river from where i first saw the doves in Riverside proper. The next year a pair landed in the garden and used the birdbath. They seem to be hanging around so i put out some birdseed and they have remained here ever since. The only other place I have seen turtles doves is in Legana - a further 5ks down the river where a group has developed in a light industrial area which now has a grain distribution facility.
Malcolm Taylor