European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Обыкновенная горлица, Սովորական տատրակ
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia: The species breeds in Central and Southern Europe, Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Its wintering areas are mainly located south of the Sahara from Senegal east to Eritrea and Ethiopia. In Europe the large range decline is recorded, its population continues decreasing throughout Europe. Armenia is inhabited by nominate subspecies, the species mainly occurs around Lake Sevan and Ararat Plain, and some other patches, occupying mostly semi-open landscapes, including tree plantations and sometimes orchards. The elevation range is therefore from 600 to 2200 m a.s.l. The Turtle Dove is a migrant which returns to Armenia in mid April and leaves the country in late August - early September. It makes the nest as a small platform of twigs lined with plant material and places those at the lower parts of the trees and in scrubs. The species usually lays one to two eggs in late April - early May, having one clutches per year (rarely two). Turtle Doves are mainly feeding on the ground, taking seeds of weeds and cereals, but rarely also berries and invertebrates.
Population dynamics: According to the last estimation, population of the species makes from 1000 to 3000 breeding pairs; apparently the estimation requires improvement and better accuracy. Population trend demonstrates steep decline, which probably is partly caused by global threat of hunting during migration and at its wintering range. The global threats for the breeding populations of the species, which can be applicable for Armenia, are transformation of agricultural lands (including destruction of hedges and scrubs), loss of semi-natural habitats, and changes in agricultural practices, all together can reduce food supply and nesting habitat availability. It is thought that the decline in food is the main limiting factor rather than decline in nest site availability. Among other global threats applicable locally is widespread use of chemical herbicides which can cause decline or elimination of many food plants and an increased reliance upon cultivated grain. It appears that in Armenia the species doesn't face a global threat of competition with Collared Dove, as the last mostly occupies urban areas. With hunting period in late August and September, and current poor knowledge in species identification and lack of responsible attitude among hunters, the intentional and unintentional poaching can influence the breeding population in the country as well as migrants from Russia and other countries located to the north of Armenia. Thus, there is a big uncertainty among local threats, and therefore, there is need of additional research to be implemented in the country.
Conservation Measures: The species is included in IUCN Red List as Vulnerable (VU Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd), Convention on Migratory Species - Appendix II and EU Birds Directive - Annex II. Despite on that the Turtle Dove is not listed in Bern Convention and in the Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010). At current, some breeding habitats of the species have been included into the Emerald Network (2016) protected under Bern Convention; however in fact the Turtle Dove is protected only in Lake Sevan National Park. The proposed conservation measures include: (1) assessment of its conservation status for the next edition of Red Book of Animals of Armenia (planned for 2020); (2) development of management plans for Emerald Sites: Khor Virap - Armash andMetsamor; (3) identification of new Emerald Sites in Tavush province; (4) inclusion of species identification and conservation education tests in conditions of licensing of hunters; (5) strengthening the control over hunters; (6) further development of birdwatching in the country as a way of species appreciation; (7) implementation of additional research on population of the species and the currents threats in Armenia; (8) continuation of species' monitoring to track the further population changes at the country level.