Supplementary feeding of turtle doves, as with many other granivorous ( seed eating) birds, can be an important source of nutrition. Turtle doves are generally ground feeders, although you may see them on a bird table and even at a hanging feeder. Disease is a big problem among turtle doves, particularly the disease Trichomoniasis which effects the bird’s mouth and swallowing action.
Therefore it is very important to practice good hygiene routines to minimise disease risk – otherwise feeding your turtle doves could inadvertently make their situation worse.
Tips for feeding turtle doves safely
- Clean and disinfect feeders and feeding sites regularly. Suitable disinfectants that can be used include a weak solution of domestic bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) or other specially-designed commercial products. Always rinse feeders thoroughly and air-dry before re-use.
- Empty and air dry any bird baths on a daily basis as the disease can live in water.
- Provide a little food regularly (rather than a large amount occasionally) as disease can build up on the food when it is left in the environment.
- Move the feeders around to avoid a build up of disease.
- Scatter seed thinly on the ground rather than in piles where disease can build up.
Help turtle doves through the bird food you buy
Even if you don’t have turtle doves in your garden you can still help them by purchasing Fair to Nature accredited bird food. Where possible, the seeds and grains in Fair to Nature bird food brands are grown on farms that have dedicate wildlife habitats on them, including special areas of seed bearing crops to keep the farmland birds going through the colder months. The RSPB range of bird food is Fair to Nature accredited, as are other brands such as Honeyfield’s, ChapelWood, and the Ultiva range from Garden Bird & Wildlife. You can find out more by having a look at the ‘Shopping‘ page.
Photo credit: Juvenile and adult turtle doves – D Norman via the OTD Hotline