Author: Emily Kench

Deep in the heart of the East Anglian countryside, a loving purr whistles through a hedgerow. Amongst tight-knit leaves, one set of orange eyes burning with love, stares into the eyes of another. After a long and testing journey this male turtle dove has found his love: his one and only, his mate for life.

He has traveled 11,000 km from his wintering grounds in West Africa to find her, and the journey is becoming ever more difficult. The climate has changed and drought is more prevalent; change is happening at a rate too fast for the turtle dove to adapt to.

Photo: Andy Hay

For centuries, we have looked to this dainty dove for lessons in love. A species shrouded in the concept of fidelity and devotion, willing to make a life-long commitment to its partner. But sometimes, appreciation is not enough. Human consumption patterns and use of fossil fuels are changing climate patterns on a grander scale and we forget that we are not the only species to jet set around the globe. Many of our ‘local’ birds annually migrate to distant wintering and breeding grounds and although we may be unable to see it in our daily lives, it is this human-caused climate change that is contributing to the decline of the international resident, but locally beloved turtle dove.

This Valentine’s Day, it is time to turn the tables and show the love for turtle doves. In time, we could learn a lot from these little doves and their commitment to carbon-free flight, but to begin with we can simply start from the heart.


Wear and share a green heart for turtle doves this Valentine’s Day

The Climate Coalition, of which the RSPB is a member, are inspiring us to show the love for places, people and life we want to protect from climate change by making and wearing green hearts and sharing on social media.

Others are taking their heartfelt love for the turtle dove to new levels. Dove Step 3 team, Robert Yaxley and Jonny Rankin will be walking daily back-to-back marathon distances covering 700 miles of the turtle doves’ migration route through Spain. The team are fundraising for Operation Turtle Dove, a project on an important and urgent mission to improve the fortunes of this enigmatic and culturally significant bird. Turtle doves have suffered a 91% UK population decline since 1995 and a 78% decline across Europe since 1980. So the fundraising efforts of the Dove Step 3 team help stop the possibility of turtle dove extinction from becoming a reality.

If however, you are unable to walk 700 miles across Spain on Valentine’s Day but want to demonstrate your commitment for acting on climate change, we invite you to join us outside the Forum in Norwich wearing your finest greenery (or should that be your greenest finery?) to create a giant human heart. Together, we can show our commitment to protecting nature homes against climate change. Together we can give politicians and people in power a mandate to act on. Together we can show the love.

To donate to Dove Step 3 visit

To find out more about show the love visit

Show the Love at the Forum

This Valentine’s Day, the RSPB is asking people in Norwich to show the love for turtle doves and other wildlife and nature impacted by climate change. Help send a message that climate change matters to you. Join us at The Forum at 10 am to help create a giant human Show the Love green heart and find out more about the Climate Coalition’s campaign to get government to take action on climate change.

Visit the event page here.