[Tweeters] European Turtle Doves

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sun May 2 19:50:05 PDT 2021

Dear Tweeters,
It was interesting to hear about the plight of the European Turtle Doves. Those doves are indeed hunted intensively in the Mediterranean area. However, I suspect that the gluttonous slaughter of European Turtle Doves by Arab hunters on the Red Sea littoral might be even worse than the carnage wrought by the Italians, Maltese, and so forth. 
Quite a few years ago, I read a factoid about this. As I recall, it was stated that the number of Turtle Doves trapped annually on just a few small islands in the southern Red Sea was equivalent to the entire year's production of fledged offspring from northeastern Europe. The hunters on those Red Sea islands still use bird-lime and other ancient methods to capture the hapless migrants that make the mistake of landing there.
When I lived in Arabia, I was horrified to experience the Turtle-Dove hunt firsthand. Each autumn, the dove-hunters in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia gear up. They are usually armed with pellet guns and small-bore shotguns, or the occasional twenty-two. They drive along in beat-up sedans and pickups, plinking at anything that moves, even in urban parks. They shoot just about every species of bird that comes their way. I watched them shooting at Greater Spotted Eagles, Black-crowned Night Herons, Bee-eaters, Squacco Herons, and so forth. Most of the birds are just left dead on the sand, to be picked up by crows, gulls, and kites.
Even species that are specifically identified as not being halal, such as the Roller, are shot. The Rollers are "harvested" because the Arab men believe that certain internal organs of that bird can be used as aphrodisiacs--although the consumption of these birds is proscribed in their own scriptures.
They call the Turtle Doves "gumri" there. They have a saying, something like, "Gumri, al-yumri," which I think means something like "Turtle Doves are my beloved." One of the parks in Yanbu is even named after the Turtle Dove. 
I used to make a game out of spotting my first Turtle Dove before spotting my first Turtle-Dove hunter. It took me a few years to accomplish that goal. Oftentimes the doves that I did see were maimed. The hunters there are not good shots. They are even worse at retrieving their quarry.
Okay, back to looking at the birds at my feeders!
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
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