The European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, the doves and pigeons. The turtle dove is a migratory species with a southern Palearctic range covering most of Europe and the Middle East and including Turkey and north Africa, although it is rare in northern Scandinavia and Russia. It winters in southern Africa.
According to the State of Europe's Common Birds 2007 report, the turtle dove population in Europe has fallen by 62% in recent times. Environmentalist groups have said that this is partly because changed farming practices mean that the weed seeds and shoots on which it feeds, especially fumitory, are more scarce, and partly due to shooting of birds in Mediterranean countries. According to a 2001 study cited by the European Commission, between two and four million birds are shot annually in Malta, Cyprus, France, Italy, Spain and Greece.Environmentalists have described spring hunting in Malta as particularly problematic as it is the only country with an EU derogation to shoot birds during their spring migration to breeding grounds.
According to a 2007 study by the European Commission, four currently identifiable potential threats to the turtle dove are (1) habitat loss/modification (medium to low impact), droughts and climate change (mostly unknown but likely low impact), hunting (partly unknown but overall medium impact), and (4) competition with the collared dove (unknown impact).