Doves are a symbol of love and a millennial curse


The doves, the closest relatives of pigeons, are represented in our fauna by two very distinct species, the European dove and the Turkish dove. They are birds that emit hoarse and guttural sounds that resemble sighs generated in a wooden throat.

Like pigeons, doves drink by constantly sucking up water with their heads lowered and their beaks submerged, unlike other birds which have to raise their heads and tilt them back to be able to swallow the water.

Resident of the African Sahel

In 2015 the European dove (Streptopelia turtur) it was declared Bird of the Year by SEO/BirdLife to underline the dangerous situation in which it finds itself. Its name comes from Strepto, which means necklace, pelia, which translates to dove, and the specific epithet turtur comes from Latin and means dove.

It is estimated that up to two million European doves fly over our peninsula every year on their long migration path to the African barracks, where they take refuge from the rigors of winter. They do so mainly in the western part of the continent, specifically in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Thanks to monitoring systems, it is known that these birds do not remain in one area permanently, but rather move over hundreds of kilometers, but always within the framework of the sub-Saharan strip. His case is truly exceptional, being the only trans-Saharan migrant exclusively grain-eating throughout the year.


Doves are monogamous birds that have served as an inspiration to poets of all times and which symbolize eternal love, not in vain the dictionary of the RAE, in its third sense of the term dove, collects: “lovers”. Its size is smaller than that of pigeons and it is characterized by a light gray head, a reddish halo around the eyes and dark spots on a reddish-brown back. In addition, it has a collar of black and white lists, not complete.

In recent decades, this species has experienced a gradual population decline driven by several factors, including drought and overgrazing in the wintering range, alteration of breeding habitat, and hunting pressure. during fall migration.

The European dove likes grasslands and wooded fields, unlike its cousin the Eurasian dove which lives mainly in anthropophilic areas, such as parks, gardens or animal feedlots.

a cursed bird

The Turtle Dove is a newcomer to our fauna, it comes from Asia Minor, as its name suggests, and the first specimens were only seen in the Iberian Peninsula in the 1960s, when it was born. stopped spreading.

The scientific name for the collared dove is Streptopelia decaocto, a denomination that is linked to the sound of his lullaby: “dekaochto”which resembles the Greek pronunciation of the number eighteen (this sideten, Okayeight).

His name is linked to a Greek legend which says that when Jesus Christ was going to Calvary, carrying the cross, a Roman soldier took pity on him and wanted to buy him a bowl of milk worth 18 (dekaochto) pieces, but he only had seventeen. No matter how much he begged and begged the old saleswoman, there was no way she would lower the price. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the saleswoman was transformed into a Turkish dove, forced to repeat her whole life “dekaochto”. A coo very different from the soft disyllabic and repetitive coo that characterizes the European dove: “Thoot, twot, twoooour…”.

The caption ends by stating that if at any time the collared dove’s coo becomes seventeen (dekaepta) the curse will end, but if, on the contrary, eighteen becomes nineteen (dekaennea) It will mean that the end of the world is near. Anyway…hope we never have to hear “dekeaennea”.

Character font: PETER CHOKER/ABC

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