RSPB

In 2012 we began a satellite tracking project to help us learn more about the movements of Turtle doves as they travel from their UK breeding grounds to Africa.

The aim of this study is to gather information on the migratory movements of turtle doves, and to identify important areas used en route and in Africa.

In 2014, one of our tagged birds, named Titan, became the first UK-breeding turtle dove to be tracked over the whole of its migratory journey, from Suffolk to West Africa and back again. We were also able to follow him for a second autumn / winter as he returned to Africa.

We have discovered a lot from following Titan, including his exact migration route, important stopover sites and multiple wintering locations, and even how these vary between years in response to environmental conditions, but we realise there is only a limited amount you can learn from just one bird. So, in 2016 we sought, and were given, permission to satellite tag more UK breeding turtle doves in the UK.

The satellite tracking map shows you the live location of our birds.

Meet the birds

Bird 161004 has been given a name - Myrtle. Thank you to Claire Wilson, Anne Tomma, Howard Bayley, Jez Elkin, Hannah Gumbrell, Katy Spedding, Halina Morton, Susanna Allen, Ella Wooley, Julie Kimber and photo_cj for suggesting this name. We have only received two transmissions from Myrtle since 14 September 2016, telling us that he is still close to where he was caught in Cambridgeshire, UK. We believe that Myrtle may have perished. We do not know what may have caused his death, but some of the risks faced by turtle doves on their breeding grounds include predation and the stresses of preparing for migration.

Titan

We have not heard from Titan since 22 April 2016, when he was still in Mali c.100km west of the capital Bamako. 

We believe that Titan’s satellite tag battery may have reached the end of its lifespan. However, there is also a possibility that Titan may have perished. 

Take a look at Titan’s migration journey and find out what we have learnt from him.

Open the map full screen here

Satellite tracking map

2014 - 2015 Titan
2015 - 2016 Titan

Follow the journey of our satellite tagged turtle doves in more detail by downloading the satellite data for your copy of Google Earth.

Get the route for Google Earth

Working in partnership

This project wouldn't be possible without the generous support of all the volunteers and farmers and the following organisations: Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Conservation Grade and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust - turtle doves.

Satellite-tagging of turtle doves is also being done in France and Spain. We donated five tags to the French team at ONCFS.

Find out more

Read more about turtle doves, the problems they face and what we're doing to help.

Turtle dove

The turtle dove is a dainty dove, smaller and darker than the collared dove and slightly larger than a blackbird. Its upperparts are distinctively mottled with chestnut and black and its black tail ha... More...

Turtle dove

Operation Turtle Dove

Conservationists are embarking on an urgent mission to save one of the UK's most threatened birds from extinction. Operation Turtle Dove is a project designed to reverse the decline of one of England's best-loved farmland birds. More...

Operation Turtle Dove

Ecology of European migrant birds in Africa

The 'Migrants in Africa' research programme is designed to increase our understanding of the non-breeding ecology of some of our iconic species, and use this to inform actions to stem and ultimately reverse their population declines. More...

Ecology of European migrant birds in Africa

Birds Without Borders project

Our migrant birds are disappearing at an alarming rate. Please help save our summer visitors by donating today. More...

Birds Without Borders project

How you can help

Turtle doves have declined by 93 per cent between 1994 - 2014 meaning there are just nine for every 100 there were 40 years ago! We are facing the very real possibility of this beautiful bird becoming extinct as breeding bird in England. Your donation will help fund research looking into threats facing these iconic birds, as well as developing solutions that will save them. More...

How you can help