Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Turtle dove

Nominated by: Sussex Wildlife Trust

Conservation status: Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern Review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Why do you love it? Turtle doves are the ancient symbol of love and fidelity, with pairs remaining faithful from one year to the next. They are exquisite little doves, with beautifully delicate chestnut plumage. Turtle doves are the sound of springtime at our Woods Mill Nature Reserve; listen out for their graceful purring call floating over the blackthorn, crooning for all to hear, clearly visible at the top of a tall tree.

And where would we be on the second day of Christmas without two turtle doves?

What are the threats to the turtle dove? Turtle dove numbers have drastically declined in Sussex and the rest of the UK in the last 50 years, due to changing agricultural practices and habitat loss. Recent studies estimate there has been a 90 percent reduction in breeding birds since the 1960s and their breeding range in Sussex has halved in just 20 years. Unfortunately this is a pattern which is being echoed across Europe and the turtle dove is now considered to be the second most likely bird to become extinct in England by 2020.

What are you doing to save it? The Sussex Wildlife Trust is now working with Operation Turtle Dove which aims to identify the primary cause of decline and develop urgent practical solutions. We are lucky to still have a small number of breeding pairs in Sussex each summer. In particular the Adur Valley, including our nature reserve at Woods Mill.

There are two things that turtle doves need to successfully breed:

– Both adults and chicks require a continuous supply of suitable seeds throughout the summer from late April until the end of August. They feed on the ground in weedy areas where vegetation is short and sparse and especially depend on fumitory, knotgrass, chickweed, oilseed rape and cereal grains.

– Most turtle doves nest in hedgerows or scrub over 4m tall, so they need tall, mature hedgerows, areas of scrub or woodland edges with a thick shrub layer. Nests are also often associated with climbers including clematis, honeysuckle and bramble.

Find out more about the work of the Sussex Wildlife Trust

Discover more pigeon and dove species on Arkive