Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for lovebirds, but real lovebirds – turtledoves – are struggling, according to BirdLife Switzerland. Their numbers have plummeted by 80% in Europe since 1980.
“Save the turtledoves,” BirdLife urged in a statementexternal link on Friday. The reasons for the sharp decline are habitat loss, poaching and legal but no longer sustainable hunting, it said.
The loss of suitable habitats for breeding is related to the advancing industrialisation of agriculture, the organisation explained.
Turtledoves feed on seeds. In the past, numerous plant species could be found on unpaved paths in cultivated land, and so-called arable flora grew in fields, a rich group of valuable plants which have almost completely disappeared today.
“Herbicides and the frequent cultivation of the soil with agricultural machinery make it almost impossible for these plants to survive,” says the report.
BirdLife Switzerland is calling for a rethink and an agricultural policy that better compensates farmers for services to biodiversity and the environment. The turtledove needs areas that are rich in blossom and seeds with patchy vegetation, especially below 500 metres above sea level, it said.
Together with farmers, BirdLife Switzerland has started trials to create suitable areas for turtledoves to be able to forage.