Coo! Why not help name Feltwell’s satellite dove?

Turtle doves are so called because their back pattern looks like tortoiseshell

Picture: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com. ENGPPP00120130515163830
Turtle doves are so called because their back pattern looks like tortoiseshell Picture: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com. ENGPPP00120130515163830
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There are three days left to give a rare dove from Feltwell a name as it helps scientists fighting to save the species.

A turtle dove fitted with a satellite tag in Feltwell is about to leave on migration and currently only has the uninspiring ring number 161004.

But the RSPB is asking people to vote for the their favourite name from a choice of Atlas, Gulliver and Myrtle, which is currently most popular. They were chosen from 200 names put forward on Facebook.

Six birds were fitted with high-tech tracking devices by researchers from the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science as part of Operation Turtle Dove, an initiative to identify the causes of turtle doves’ decline and what can be done to address them and help turn around the birds’ fortunes.

Thanks to state-of-the-art satellite tracking technology, RSPB scientists will be able follow the movements of the tagged turtle doves in an effort to learn more about the migratory behaviour of one of our most threatened birds.

Turtle dove numbers have fallen by 93 per cent since 1994, a greater decline than any other UK breeding bird. They are our only migratory dove, spending less than half the year in the UK, and flying more than 3,000 miles to Sub-Saharan Africa in the autumn.

A similar project by the Thetford-based British trust for Ornithology on cuckoos revealed for the first time exactly where they winter in west Africa and what routes they take to get there.

Rupert Masefield of the RSPB and Operation Turtle Dove said: “We’re delighted so many people have shown an interest in helping to choose a name for one of these turtle doves. Whichever name wins, it will definitely be catchier than ‘161004’, even if it might make some of our scientist wince to have to refer to him as Myrtle the turtle dove.”

Which name do you think best suits the intrepid turtle dove ‘161004’? You can vote in the Twitter poll on @Natures_Voice, or by commenting on the RSPBLoveNature Facebook post between now and Sunday.

You can follow the six doves’ journeys at www.rspb.org.uk/turtledovetracking