Spotted Turtledove comes to drink

Spotted Turtledove

Spotted Turtledove

It is interesting to see the parade of birds coming to drink at our bird baths, especially on a hot day. We’ve had many really hot days in the last few months, with many days over 40C (104F) and some as high as 46C (115F). It is the birds that suffer terribly during these stiflingly hot days so we feel pleased that we are offering them just a little respite from the oppressive conditions.

Introduced Species:

Spotted Turtledoves, an introduced species in Australia are one of those quiet, unassuming species that cause very few problems in our parks and gardens. They are found in coastal eastern and south eastern Australia as well as parts of south western Western Australia and Tasmania. Here in Murray Bridge they are relatively common throughout the city in parks and gardens. They are a breeding resident species in our garden. They don’t often come to the water to drink, but hot days are an exception.

Spotted Turtledove

Spotted Turtledove


49 Responses to “Spotted Turtledove comes to drink”

  1. Louise says:

    I love your photos. I live in the northern suburbs of Launceston and I have up to 10 spotted turtle doves who come to feed in my garden. I only started to notice them last year because they were feeding on the seed that was dropping out of the feeders I have in the tree for the parrots. I have a nice clean birdbath but only the little wattle birds, blackbirds, sparrows and starlings use it. I will have to keep an eye out on hot days and see if the doves start to drink from it too. I have often wondered where they get their drink from as I have never seen them drink. Because we are coming into spring it will be very interesting to see if any nest in my tree this year.

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Louise.

    Thank you for visiting my birding blog and for leaving a comment. The Spotted Turtledove is a lovely bird to have in your garden – even if it is a ‘foreigner’ (introduced species). I love their gentle cooing.

    Keep an eye on that bird bath – I would not be surprised if you actually had far more species visit on hot days than those you have listed.

  3. Wyn says:

    I have a pair of Spotted Turtle-Doves in my courtyard garden that bring much delight. On winter evenings they like to snuggle up as close as is birdly possible in the weeping cherry tree. Settling can take a little while as they nudge each other up or down the branch, do 180 degree turns, & climb over each other. They nest in my pomegranite tree.

    Recently I found a Common Blackbird nest in the lemon tree. Wondering if their presence is the cause of the Doves coming less often? Can they co-exist happily together in a small garden?

  4. Trevor says:

    Welcome to my blog about birds, Wyn. Those species should have no trouble getting along, even in a small garden. If you observe their feeding habits you will notice that they occupy different niches. The doves are primarily seed eaters. The blackbirds are mainly insectivorous – eating insects, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, worms, cockroaches etc so they are not really in competition.

    The sad thing is that both are introduced species, so this means that they are taking food and nesting places from our native birds.

  5. James says:

    I have a spotted turtledove that has recently built a little nest in a discreet and protected concrete ledge outside my dining room window in a Sydney eastern suburbs high rise. She’s got two eggs under her which she laid about 12 days or so ago; how long is the incubation period? Also, should I attempt to give her any food?

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi there James – welcome to my birding blog. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

    I’m not absolutely sure how long the incubation period is for Spotted Turtledoves, but many similar species hatch within 21 days after the adult starts sitting.

    There is no need to feed the bird – some will stay sitting for many days without eating.

  7. James says:

    Thanks for that … yes, she seems very content to just sit there all day, and flies of briefly I guess to get a snack and a few more little sticks.

  8. Nicole says:

    Hi Trevor

    I have a Spotted Turtle dove nest in a minature date palm right outside my study window. Since November there have been 3 clutches of 2 eggs each time hatched and raised there.

    At first we thought that the female may have been laying again after raising a clutch but have since been wondering if the main resident of our backyard is actually the male who is bringing home another girlfriend immediately after the previous one has left with her chicks.

    It has been an utter delight to watch the babies grow but I have just noticed there is another dove on the nest repairing it and I am wondering if our total of chicks is now going to be 8.

  9. Trevor says:

    Thanks Nicole – the birds we find all around us can be a sheer delight as you have found. All it takes is for eyes to see and a heart to appreciate. Happy birding.

  10. Steve says:

    I live in the Hills district of Sydney and have a large backyard and encourage many species in with four large water dishes a few metres apart and it is common to have many different species sharing the water during the day. I have witnessed the Spotted Turtledoves sitting in the water often, and even on cold winter mornings soon after refilling the water dishes. I have found the best way of encouraging bird life into the garden is fresh water and when I can twice daily refills. I have counted 36 bird species including hawks and falcons and the poor old dove is their preferred quarry. Providing an environment where birds can feed and water certainly opens your eyes to all aspects of nature, from nesting and raising young to hunting of prey.

  11. Robert says:

    we had over 11 spotted turle doves living in my backyard over the years i watch them come and go, i feed them some bread crumbs each day and we have a massive bird bath we also have sparrows, wattle birds and Indian Mynas

  12. Trevor says:

    Thanks for stopping by Robert – and for leaving some comments about the birds in your part of the world. Watching them go about their every day lives can only enrich our own lives. I like to encourage people to not only stop and smell the roses – but also stop at look at the birds. A greater teacher than I once instructed us to “Look at the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26)

  13. […] lorikeets sulphur crested cockatoos crows flying foxes magpies myna birds (alas) spotted turtledove pied currawong noisy miner white ibis ducks (!) pigeons sea […]

  14. Craig says:

    hey trevor, I have two turtle doves nesting in our outside, but closed in alfresco area. I have tried to discourage them from nesting there, but they are very persistant and keep coming back. Do you have any ideas?? should i just accept that they will nest there?? will they be aggressive/territorial if they lay eggs?? if not, i dont mind them staying there because they are very nice birds!

    any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thankyou, craig.

  15. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting Craig. Turtle doves are generally very docile birds, even when nesting. They won’t harass you or swoop – quite the opposite – doves and pigeons can be very flighty and nervous at the nest and often abandon the eggs if disturbed, especially in the wild. I’d leave them be so you can enjoy their comings and goings.

    Despite them not being Australian native birds, I must admit I quite like the Spotted Turtledoves around – their soft cooing is lovely – until they go on and on for hours when it can get on your nerves!

    Being an introduced species you could remove their nests if you want to. It is only illegal to interfere with the nests or eggs of our native species.

    Enjoy them, is my advice.

  16. Michelle says:

    Hi Trevor, can you tell me if there is any point in trying to incubate a spotted turtle dove egg that has been blown out of the nest in strong winds, and appears Mum & Dad may have abandoned? Not sure how long it’s been out – maybe 24hrs or more, as I thought I saw it in the nest 2 days ago, but couldn’t see it yesterday, then saw it on the ground today.

  17. Trevor says:

    Hi there Michelle, thanks for stopping by,

    If the egg has been out of the nest for more than an hour or so there is no point in persevering with it. You don’t mention where your are but you must be having the same wild winds we are having here in South Australia. The parents will undoubtedly nest again this spring/summer. Many species will nest several times each breeding season, some of them have as many as five broods. Sadly the attrition rate is very high – infertile eggs, eggs that don’t hatch, nestlings taken by predators and road kill once they fledge.

  18. Trevor says:

    Another quick note Michelle to let you know that your email notification of my answer bounced. You’d left out the “o” in the “com” part of your address. Can you reply to this to say you got my reply?

  19. Judith says:

    We have a dove nesting on top of plastic square wire supporting a potato vine on edge of a verandah. The bird has just flattened the edge. There is no nest, justing sitting there on an egg. Gets full afternoon sun. Been there since the weekend. Just happy sitting there. Only concern is our dog and cat (although inside most of the time and I can let out in the front yard if needs be) and the fact that it is just sitting on wire – what happens when baby hatches and the sun. In West Croydon.

  20. Trevor says:

    Hi there Judith,

    Doves and pigeons have to be amongst the worst nest builders in the bird kingdom. I’ve seen numerous nest that are so flimsy you can see the eggs while standing underneath! How the eggs stay there beats me – some don’t of course. And how the hatchlings stay there is another miracle.

    I’d not be too concerned in the case of your dove. I hope it will realise the error of its ways as the hot sun beats down on the “nest” and then it will abandon the egg. Hopefully it will then choose a better location for its next attempt (many species nest 2 – 4 times in a season).

    If it does persist, and the egg hatches, it is quite likely that one of the adults will shade the nestling with its wings while the other brings food.

  21. […] morning last week while having breakfast I noticed a Spotted Turtledove flying frequently to a melaleuca bush near our sunroom. As we watched it flew down to the ground […]

  22. Judith says:

    An update on previous entry. The egg hatched and the baby only lived 3 days. It didn’t appear that the doves were great at feeding. They just sat there all day and I only saw it leave the nest once. They may have left at sunrise but that was all. It was nice watching them while it lasted.

  23. Elliette says:

    How lovely! A site where I can tell you about Daisy and Charlie!!

    I’m in North Adelaide (used to live in the ‘Bridge!).My two have been in my shaded garden for 4 years now, nesting in a Wonga Wonga vine, just off the back verandah.

    They are not tame of course, but I would designate them now as semi-tame. I can be about 8-10 inches from the nest, pruning the hanging baskets, and Charlie (who does the day shift) will just watch me. I don’t look directly at him, but talk to him softly whilst I’m working. I also have a bucket hanging just under the nest in which I keep paper towels that I have used once in the house and are still ‘clean;-for wiping things down etc. I regularly go into the bucket talking to Charlie as I do so,-no problems.

    Trevor, you’ve mentioned the temperatures;-it’s 43c here today-same tomorrow, and hotter in the Bridge?? Well, I decided to try something;-this is Daisy’s fourth clutch this season, the babies have hatched-and it’s so darned hot!

    …..yesterday I decided to take a risk and see if Charlie and the babies would like a little cool down!! I talked softly, and put the hose on ‘mist’ and gave them a wee shower, talking to Charlie all the time. He seemed happy. They’ve had their shower again this morning,-and seem to like it. The babies were peering down at me afterward as if to say “that was nice”!!

    I only hope they’re getting enough food. The garden is kept verdant, so I hope they are coping.

    I know that Daisy and Charlie are coming to the end of their lives. I will miss them terribly;-they have become like companions.

    All the best,

    I shall be ‘with it’ and say: stay cool!! And mean it literally.


  24. Trevor says:

    Hi there Elliette,

    Thanks for sharing your encounters with birds in your garden with my readers.

    Keep cool.

  25. Jim Cherry says:

    We live 12km outside of Tamworth. In mid November we saw a pair of spotted turtle doves visiting my grandson’s chook pen. I had never seen them before. In early December they appeared to be collecting food obviously for feeding young. It wasn’t long before we spotted them being fed on the ground around our garden. Early January I noticed the parents were mating again and now feeding young in the top of a lopped red flowered ironbark tree. At the same time the original babies are still being fed and one obviously the female is being mated by what I presume is the father. Seems a bit cheeky, he feeds them and then mates one.
    So are these going to be “flying rabbits” and become a pest like so many of the other introduced things to Australia? When we first saw them we thought it was great to have another bird arrive in our garden because each year we see at least 1-2 different new species arrive then return the following year.
    When time permits I will have a look at the other species you have listed.

  26. Trevor says:

    Hi there Jim.

    Thanks for visiting and for taking the trouble to leave some comments.

    Spotted Turtledoves are an introduced species in Australia and are becoming a moderate pest species in some areas.

    I’m not all that familiar with the bird life in the Tamworth region – it’s been far too many years since my last visit. The guides and atlasses of distribution I have in my library indicate that they are not widespread nor common in your area. This species is expanding its range, so that is probably what you have witnessed.

  27. moi says:

    Hi there bird people! Just wanted to say what a great site you have here….after moving into our new house last year i noticed 4 spotted doves who now keep me company every afternoon at wine time as we watch the sunset. I never had an interest in birds before, but my little friends have won my heart as they are just so charming..I have just put down some wild bird mix to surprise them this afternoon.

  28. Elliette says:

    For Jim Cherry:

    ‘Daisy and Charlie’ have been here for five years. They had five clutches this year, and fourteen in all! Single births at first-then couples-and one of three = 27 births!!

    The significant thing is that most all the youngsters have left. The parent birds remain+one of the youngsters.

    I find that the Dove does not colonise like the Pigeon-and is far more family orientated.

    I give them water but I don’t feed them……? I’m unsure if that would bring more in, but I doubt it. As I said before it is usual for Doves to pair for life, unless one of the partners is lost.

    I have the strongest feeling that my two (three!), consider the garden home, and would not like other Doves here,-which is a relief!

    As I type this, they are in their usual place in the Jacaranda, sleeping?? I suppose!

    Bye all!

  29. Elliette says:

    I meant to say hi to you Moi!

    Yes, they do become objects of affection don’t they?

  30. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting my site moi and Elliette, and for leaving these comments.

  31. Jim Cherry says:

    We have found the crested pigeons and peaceful doves are being displaced by these pesty birds. We are down to a pair of each now from at least 4 maybe 5 pairs in previous years while the spotted turtle dove has no problem colonising and breeding here.
    They are that brazen they come to a metre from us when we are sitting in the garden and I have observed them coming onto our verandah which sits at ground level.

  32. james says:

    does any one know there habitat if so mail me

  33. Trevor says:

    Hi there James,

    Thanks for visiting my site about Australian birds.

    Spotted Turtledoves are an introduced species in Australia. They therefore cannot be said to have a habitat in this country, strictly speaking.

    They come from eastern Asia where their preferred habitat is open woodland, agricultural land, parks and gardens. In Australia they tend to favour parks and gardens in urban areas, but can sometimes be found around farm buildings too.

  34. […] We usually have several Spotted Turtledoves hanging around somewhere in our garden. In the hot weather they are frequent visitors to our bird baths – to see photos click here. […]

  35. Brittany says:

    I have these birds nesting in my yard, along with some rosellas, some brush turkeys, pee wees, but we also have minor birds. Do any of these species attack eachother?
    If so please tell me soon because the spotted turtle doves the brush turkeys and the pee wees have just had some babies and we have grown quite attatched and would want there to be a fight.

  36. Brittany says:

    sorry i meant wouldn’t want there to be a fight.

  37. monika says:

    Hi Trevor
    My husband & i have discovered a turtle dove nest right near our front door on top of a brick column that supports our car port. At first i thought that was such an odd place to make a nest being so close to our constant traffic esp since there are 3 other brick columns to choose from but although the nest is literally a couple of metres from our front door, no other predator is likely to be able to access it & its a great barrier to some strong winds we’ve been having.

    I was so excited that when mumma bird left briefly to get some food i suspect, i grabbed a chair & stood on it & took a photo of the nest complete with two white eggs. Its been a week since i took the photo so im eagerly anticipating the arrival (hopefully) of the chicks. And i love hearing the cooing. Cause its so close its quite loud at times, is that the mumma calling her mate?

  38. Elliette says:

    Hi Brittany, I can’t say for sure, but I believe that when these birds nest in the same area it is because they are tolerant of each other. I’m fairly sure you won’t have a problem.

    Each would have to be aware of the other, yet they build a nest. I think that bodes well;-fingers crossed!

    I’m fairly certain that my Daisy and Charlie have gone to birdy Heaven,-the live-span is 3 to 5 years. This is year 6. BUT: I think that one of their off-spring is now nesting.

    ‘She’ built a nest in the same place about a month ago-(I destroyed the original last season when I thought they were gone- and she called and called (Hi Monika: in my experience of mine pair,-they ARE calling their mate),- but there was no response. (I cannot shake the feeling that that was Daisy calling to Charlie).

    A younger bird started nesting there…..yesterday! So; we are go for more babies!

    These birds are a designated pest in the outback, but mine have never colonised, as I said before. Thus they are welcome!

    Good luck with yours!

  39. Ida says:

    Hi Trevor
    We have a pair of spotted turtle doves nesting in our backyard – unfortunately, they don’t seem to be the best nest builders. They lost their egg in their first attempt in our our lime tree, now they’ve built another nest in our Japanese maple and I can see a soiltary egg in it. It doesn’t look very secure and I’d hate for this one to fail as well – should I interfere and try and reinforce the nest in some way or leave it alone? I feed them enjoy having them in our garden and our cat tolerates them as well, but they don’t seem to be very smart.
    Any advice?

  40. monika says:

    The eggs have hatched! (ref to earlier comment on 23rd Oct) Actually they hatched about a week or so ago & they’re so cute. Getting quite big now & are getting feathers. I have been standing daily on a chair to get a glimpse of their progress
    when mumma leaves the nest & have been taking pics (can i upload these to the website?).

    I even reached out to the babies today to gently touch them & was surprisingly met with raised wings & snappy beaks..haha..quite defensive little things, fair enough they dont know im not a predator. When do they start leaving the nest?

  41. Elliette says:

    ************************* (This did not post. I’m trying to change it so it will go through***********************

    For Ida: Turtle Dove nests are the most sparse nests I’ve seen, you wouldn’t think that anything would stay in them, and as has happened with yours-it didn’t!

    I would not interfere with the nest, let nature take its course; hard as that is. The parent birds may reject the nest-and any eggs if they sense any ‘foreign interference with it. Good luck!

    Monika: I’m astonished that you stroked the babies!! Has Mum and Dad returned? Perhaps the parental pull is stronger than feeling someone has been in the nest! An amazing effort-I’ve never heard of that before!

    You will notice that the parent bird (dad does daytime, mum does night) will be higher and higher in the nest as the babies grow. Then they (babies-usually one the first year,-then two) poke their heads out-and that’s the time when the parents finish the sitting, and just return to feed them. One of the parent birds are always close by during this period.

    When the babies have their feathers, and are about 3-4″ long, they will step out onto close by branches-go back-step out a bit further-go back! Then they take their first short little flight. From ‘stepping out’ to flight only seems to take 3 or so days.

    Then they stay close to the parents, all huddled together to sleep at night in their chosen branch. It takes a few weeks before these birds leave their parents.

    And the nest? The same parents will use the same nest year after year if they know they have been safe there.

    The progeny of Daisy and Charlie (I think-see my comments above) have built a nest in EXACTLY the same place. Daisy/Charlie 2 are currently sitting on the nest.

  42. Trevor says:

    Hi there Elliette,

    Not sure what happened there – I do get the occasional glitch when people are posting comments. I see that you finally got it to post so all’s well.

    Thanks for your comments.

  43. monika says:

    Hi Elliette

    Yes the parents have returned to the nest no problem, i didn’t realise i could possibly cause the parents to reject their bubs..oops,luckily all is well & i frequently see the parents.

    Because they are located on a brick pile-on supporting the car-port which means they are meters from our front door, its hard not to constantly check up on them & see how they’re doing.

    Yesterday i cautiously got up on my chair & & slowly lifted my camera up to take a closer shot, all with mumma bird (i think) there. She wasn’t too happy initially, lifting her wings at me so i put my arms back down & started again even slower & got a fantastic shot of mum & bubs. I love having the family here. As corny as its gonna sounds, it brings me so much joy watching new life.

    Elliette, i hope you dont hate me for this but today (prior to reading your response) i actually picked one of the babies up very gently & briefly. They’re getting more feathers now & are getting bigger. Anyway i noticed that mum (or dad) were back shortly after & no problem so far. At least i hope i havent done any damage.

  44. Elliette says:

    Subsequent to my last post, I was not able to post at all!

    So if this post goes up…..? Here is what I wrote to you at the time, Monika:

    “Good heavens NO!! Monika. I cannot believe you’ve done that and the parents seem happy. You are a pioneer!!You have broken new ground!”


    Seasons greetings and a good 2011 to all birders on Trevor’s site!
    Daisy the Second is now on her second clutch for this season.
    The little ones are growing fast-Daisy gets higher and higher in the nest!

    OK. Here goes nothing!

  45. PETER says:

    Yes spoted turtle doves where do i start:::

    We live in Raymond Terrace ( lower Hunter Valley) we moved here 8 years ago. we first noticed a pair in our yard, now we have a flock of up to 30 birds, just in our local neighbours yards. We find these birds very anoying, they make a anoying noise, they hang around chicken pens, older people feed them with bread and seed ( which I strongly recomend that you do not do because they will breed, ( birds are meant to find there own natural food) FLYING RABBITS OR MAY BE RATS. OPEN YOUR EYES.

  46. Elliette says:

    Thanks for your comment Peter,-in my view what you say IS valid.
    I take issue with the way you say it though.
    My eyes ARE open.

    I KNOW that Crested Turtledoves are considered a pest in the outback.
    I KNOW that if I feed ‘my’ birds, this will encourage others.

    My birds have NEVER colonised. They have remained a family unit for 6 years now. If they did – I would get rid of them.

    Literally I would take measures to rid myself of them. No sentiment. I will NOT allow birds here to do that.

    Crested TD’s mate for life. They remain as a family unit. Pigeons colonise.

    Unfortunately, what your neighbours are doing is completely wrong. I am extremely sorry that you suffer the fallout of that.

    Please do not take it out on us as a result.

  47. Carbondogg says:

    I must say that anyone who uses the phrase “open your eyes” in all-caps is very hard to take seriously, even if there is a legitimate point behind it. Yes, mate, we are all blind, but you can solve all the problems of the world, preferably after about seven pre-mixed bourbon and COkes.

    Save this sort of bogan screaming for the Today Tonight message boards, or wherever you normally hang out.

  48. Trevor says:

    As moderator and owner of this site it saddens me that a legitimate debate on this topic has deteriorated to abuse and name calling. I have no option but to close comments on this post. All readers please observe polite debate on the issues, and refrain from getting personal.

    If you have any comments to make to me personally, please use the contact form found at the top of the page or click here

    The contact form sends an email directly to me and not the site. I will answer personally and privately.