Turtle doves are the UK's fastest declining bird, the population is halving in number every six years; should it continue at this rate they may be lost as a breeding bird in the UK within the next couple of decades. 

Turtle doves spend two thirds of their time outside the UK. They face a variety of threats across their migratory route, which takes them from their wintering grounds in West Africa to their breeding grounds here in the UK. 

To save the turtle dove from extinction in the UK, we must know more about the threats they face while on migration.

In summer 2014, the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science fitted Titan with small, lightweight satellite tag in Suffolk.


RSPB volunteer Heather Maclean allowed us to catch and tag a turtle dove in her garden. Heather named the bird Titan, from Greek mythology – a god of strength, based on her observations of the dominant nature of the bird as he fed and chased females in her garden. 

The satellite tracking map shows you the dates and route Titan has taken. 


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. We remain optimistic though and will be looking for Titan in his breeding grounds in Suffolk this summer. 

Follow us on twitter @RSPBScience #titan for more information.

Blog links

Migration mystery of UK's fastest declining migrant bird solved!
Following Titan our satellite-tagged turtle dove in Suffolk
Meeting of Migrants

What has happened to the other birds we have tagged?

Our specially trained and licensed researchers fitted five turtle doves with satellite tags in 2012 and two more birds in 2014. However, only Titan made it to the wintering grounds in Africa.

Photo gallery

How you can help

Without action, the future looks bleak for the UK's turtle doves.

Make a donation

Turtle doves have declined by 91 per cent since 1995. We are facing the very real possibility of losing this beautiful bird from England. Your donation will help fund research and solutions that will save them. More...

Make a donation

Titan's first migration in numbers

Satellite tracking map

2014 - 2015 Titan
2015 - 2016 Titan

Follow the journey of Titan in more detail by downloading the satellite data for your copy of Google Earth.

Get the route for Google Earth

Note on map locations

Some of the locations have been estimated. The tags are solar-powered and sometimes don't work so well while the bird sits around in dense cover.

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

Working in partnership

Satelitte-tagging of turtle doves is also being done in France and Spain. We donated five tags to the french team at ONCFS, who successfully fitted them to birds this summer in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France.

This project wouldn't be possible without the generous support of all the volunteers and farmers and the following organisations: