Sound and vision blog

07 November 2011

Recording of the Week: The Decline of the Dove

Cheryl Tipp, Wildlife Sounds Curator, writes:


Over the past three decades, the soothing song of the Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) has become an increasingly rare sound of the British countryside. Along with other birds that once thrived in farmland areas, the Turtle Dove has struggled to cope with changes in agricultural practices. The species is also a target for hunters across continental Europe who shoot individuals returning from their African wintering grounds. Both pressures have resulted in a significant decline in UK population numbers, so that today the Turtle Dove is considered a high risk (red status) species.

When Ludwig Koch made this recording in 1936 however, the purring song of this delicate dove was a familiar component of the sonic landscape of our rural regions. This 30 second snippet of song formed part of a collection of British bird recordings that were released during the same year under the title ‘Songs of Wild Birds’.  The 2 disc set, published by H. F. & G Witherby Ltd, also includes the sounds of other species that have seen their numbers plummet in recent years, such as the Nightingale and the Cuckoo.

Hopefully the work of local and national conservation bodies will mean the song of this beautiful dove will once again become a signature sound of the British countryside.

'Recording of the Week' highlights gems from the Archival Sound Recordings website, chosen by British Library experts or recommended by listeners.


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