Oriental Turtle Dove

1st winter Rainbow Bird

Very enjoyable day out with Roy and Ray. The Oriental Turtle Dove performed admirably, despite somewhat inclement weather. With a rainbow-like set of colours over its plumage, this stunning bird starlit Steve’s garden in Chipping Norton (from another v.grateful birder- thanks Steve and family). This one’s an Oriental Turtle Dove form orientalis. The other vagrant form is meena ‘Rufous Turtle Dove’. As the latter is closer in appearance to Turtle Dove = good opportunity to increase my own awareness of the characters of all 3.

Oriental Turtle Dove, Chipping Norton, Oxford, 22 Feb 2011 (above 3 photos). Has undergone considerable post- juvenile moult, including most of the primaries. The breast was deeply pigmented with brown tones and no real sense of obvious whiteness in ventral region- kind of mostly dark unders paling to greyish off-white in ventral region. I didn’t see it but Ian Lewington says on good views the dark bleeds onto the outer web of T6 (outermost tail feather).

Brett Richard sent some very helpful photos of a juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove, ‘meena’ at Al Ghaftain, Oman, taken on 18 November 2009. ( I think it might be a vagrant here?). I also put up a profile shot next to juv/1st winter Turtle Dove on Shetland on 7th October 2010. First views of this Turtle Dove was in flight. As it was the 2nd week of October, in an area I had seen both Taiga Flycatcher and Sykes’s Warbler- I figured, at least, it demanded a second look! I have often wondered if I might ‘throw away’ a young ‘meena’ Rufous Turtle Dove, because of the appearance being closer to Turtle Dove. So this was a chance to gen up.

Compare the 2 photos below. The first is a virtually full juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove, the second a juvenile (moult begun) Turtle Dove. What features would I go for in future? See the crisp orangey fringes to primaries and the more extensive filled in dark on the scapulars and tertials on the Rufous T.D. Then I might check the bare flesh around the eye (more obvious/ extensive on the Turtle Dove), and maybe if I could see them, check the tips of the primary coverts- tiny pale tips on the Rufous T.D. more obvious (when visible!) pale tips on the Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove can have strong blue tones on back/ upper rump (see photo directly above) Tresta, Fetlar, Shetland, 7th October 2010.

Below: juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove (meena), Al Ghaftain, Oman, 18 November 2009 -showing rather extensive white in the underparts, compared with the extensive dark tones on the Chipping Norton bird. Thanks Brett- very helpful!

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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4 Responses to Oriental Turtle Dove

  1. Hi Martin, that’s weird 🙂 sitting here in wind blown, rain soaked Unst and then I see a piece about a bird only 8 miles from where I lived down south. Cheers – great blog BTW.

  2. Pingback: Birder on an Orient success | Birding over my head

  3. Pingback: Rufous Turtle Dove | Birding Frontiers

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