Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Purring Dove

Turtle Doves have a habit of getting under people's skin. Perhaps it is the insistent, soft purring call that soothes, like feathered kittens. Their gentle call heralds warmer months - if swifts and swallows are the visual clue, then the turtle dove is the sound of summer. Or was.

This site, Macaulay Library, has a recording of their call - in Kenya.

Solomon refers to them: Song of Solomon 2:12:
The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

And Jeremiah 8:7
Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration; but my people do not know the ordinance of the Lord.

They are a dove of woodland edge, open forest and scrubland, arriving in the spring and leaving again in July, back to south of the Sahara. But in the last 25 years their population has catastrophically declined by 90%.

It is a great sadness that a beautiful dove, once so common flocks of them could be seen sitting on telephone lines, is now mainly restricted to a few parts of the SE.

Changes in Africa? Changes here? Is the flight now too perilous? We share a common humanity with our brothers and sisters in Africa - and we share many of our birds. I hope we can all find a way to reverse this trend. Everyone should hear Solomon's dove.

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