Nesting parameters of Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur arenicola breeding in Bahrain.
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The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur arenicola (E Hartert, 1894) breeds from Morocco east to Tripoli, and from Iraq and Iran east through Afghanistan, Turkestan and Khirgiz steppes to northwest China (del Hoyo et al 1997). Within the Arabian peninsula it has been recorded breeding in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen in addition to Bahrain. It has not been recorded breeding in Qatar though suitable habitat exists there (Jennings 2010). Turtle Doves are widespread and common migrants throughout Arabia. They are thought to spend the winter in the Sahel and Ethiopia, returning north March–May to breed. Post breeding movements occur July–October and there is no evidence of wintering in Arabia (del Hoyo et al 1997, Beaman & Madge 1998, Jennings 2010). The earliest record of breeding in Bahrain dates back to 1969, with additional records from 1982, 1985 and 1993 (Nightingale & Hill 1993). The largest estimate was of 30 nests in Al Areen wildlife park in July 1985 (Nightingale & Hill 1993). The colony monitored in the current study is immediately south of Al Areen wildlife park, in a group of mature desert broom Leptadenia pyrotechnica bushes, and may be the only Turtle Dove colony in Bahrain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this breeding colony has been present annually for several decades at least, though recent evidence of birds breeding within the park was not available. The aims of the study were to gather information on the breeding parameters of this Turtle Dove colony, to estimate colony size and to conduct ringing of the chicks in the hope of getting recoveries to elucidate movement patterns of these Bahrain birds.