Animals: They were here first
Operation Turtle Dove
If you’re planning to celebrate Christmas this year by giving your true love every gift in the lyrics of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, you might have a little trouble finding a pair of turtle doves. For starters, you’ll have to head across the pond to the English countryside. From there, you’ll find yourself on quite a search because these fabled birds of love are facing extinction.
The BBC reported on this sad piece of news in an article by Claire Marshall on October 23, 2014. Here is an excerpt that explains the problems facing farmland birds:
Much of this decline is blamed on the rapid change in farmland management in the late 1970s and early 1990s. Modern intensive farming methods means that fields have become much bigger, and more chemicals are used. With a significant loss of hedgerows, birds have fewer places to nest. The increased use of insecticides means there is less for them to eat. A switch from spring to autumn-sown crops is thought to have had an impact on several species - crops are too high in spring for certain birds to nest.
Here's a little more about the turtle dove from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds:
The turtle dove is a dainty dove, smaller and darker than the collared dove and slightly larger than a blackbird. Its upperparts are distinctively mottled with chestnut and black and its black tail has a white edge.
The gentle purr of the turtle dove is an evocative sound of summer, but has become increasingly rare following rapid and sustained population declines. One cause of the decline is thought to be lack of seed and grain as food during the breeding season, resulting in a much shorter breeder season with fewer nesting attempts. The species is now included on the Red List of conservation concern.
Before you give up on your plans to fulfill your fantasy to get all twelve Christmas gifts for your true love this year, take a look at Operation Turtle Dove! Their website contains all sorts of ways that you can help promote wildlife-friendly farming. And you will be heartened to know that this organization is working hard to save these beloved birds so that we won’t have to worry about coming up with a substitute gift for the Second Day of Christmas.