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What Do Turtle Doves Eat? Everything You Need To Know!

Have you ever wondered what turtle doves eat? These beautiful birds are a common sight in many parts of the world, but their dietary habits are often a mystery to many people.

Turtle doves are a type of bird that belongs to the family Columbidae. They are known for their distinctive appearance and their gentle cooing call. While they may seem like harmless creatures, they play an important role in their ecosystem by helping to disperse seeds and control insect populations.

So what do turtle doves eat? 

As a general rule, turtle Doves are known to eat various seeds and berries, including seeds from acacia trees and insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. 

If you want to attract turtle doves to your garden or simply want to learn more about these fascinating birds, it’s important to understand their dietary habits. In this article, we will explore what turtle doves eat and how their diet impacts their behavior and survival.

Let’s get started.

Types of food they consume

Many granivorous birds, like turtle doves, need supplementary nutrition from reliable sources. Dove usually forages on the ground, but you could see them perched on a bird table or at a hanging feeder.

For example, turtle doves prefer tiny and narrower corn seeds, making them the smoothest gatherers. This species has an intriguing foraging style. 

These birds spend a lot of time on the ground looking for food, but they are not known for digging into the dirt in search of something edible.

 The RSPB’s bird food is Fair to Nature certified, as are other firms like Honeyfield’s, ChapelWood, and Garden Bird & Wildlife’s Ultiva range. You may discover more by going to the ‘Shopping’ section.

How often do doves need to eat?

Doves should be fed once or twice daily, depending on age and activity level. Adult doves can be fed once daily, while younger and more active doves may need to be fed twice daily. 

That said, the right way to provide food for turtle doves is to offer a mixture of seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Doing so can ensure your turtle dove gets the nutrients needed to stay healthy and thrive.

How much does a dove eat per day?

The amount of food a dove eats per day can vary depending on its species, age, and activity level. Generally, a dove will consume about 10-12% of its body weight in food per day. This can include a mix of seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Supplementary feeding of turtle doves, such as bugs, can be an essential source of nutrition. 

What if seeds aren’t available in your area? Can they eat other foods? 

Turtle doves aren’t particularly fancy eaters and can eat various foods for this reason. You can expand their nutrition to incorporate something other than their preferred seeds.

Can turtle doves eat bread?

Turtle doves can eat bread. However, it doesn’t add any nutritional value to their nutrition. What they should eat instead of bread is a diet of plants and insects. They need to have diverse nutrition to get all the proteins they need. 

Can turtle doves eat corn?

It is undoubtedly possible for turtle doves to eat corn. This cereal, together with sunflower seeds, millet, and milo, can provide them with a balanced nutritional value.

Note: It is essential to know that some Turtle Dove species are endangered, so please check with your local wildlife officials before feeding them any human foods. 

Can turtle doves eat fruits?

Turtledoves can eat fruits. In the wild, turtle doves primarily eat seeds but will also consume small amounts of fruits and other vegetation. Fruits typically make up a tiny percentage of their nutrition. 

Turtle doves can consume more foods in captivity, including fruits and veggies.

While fresh fruits and vegetables are always best, canned or dried fruits can also be given occasional treats. 

What do baby turtle doves eat?

Baby turtle doves eat exclusively crop milk, a thick, yellowish fluid produced by the lining of the crop. Both parents produce crop milk and feed it to their young.

Crop milk is produced from cells within the crop lining. It is high in protein and fat, which helps young birds grow quickly. 

That said, baby turtle doves must be fed often, as they have a high metabolism and burn through food quickly.  As such, it is important to ensure a constant supply of food available for them. 

What do adult turtle doves eat?

As adults, turtle doves tend to eat mostly seeds and fruits. Insects are still a part of their diet. Moreover, turtle doves enjoy eating millet seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and sorghum grains.

They also like to eat figs, grapes, and berries. If there are any insects around (lucky them!), they’ll probably go for those.

They will also eat clover, alfalfa, and other green leaves. In captivity, turtle doves can be fed various foods, including specially formulated pellets. 

These pellets should make up most of their diet, with seeds and vegetables making up the rest. For treats, they enjoy soft fruits like grapes or melon slices.


Before we move on to the conclusion, we’ve summarized this article into a short list of key points for you to remember:

  •  These birds have a varied diet, including seeds, berries, and insects.
  • The amount and frequency of feeding depending on the age and activity level of the dove.
  • Turtle doves can eat fruits and vegetables, but providing a balanced diet for their nutritional needs is important.

Final thoughts

In this article, we looked at what turtle doves like to eat and what foods are good for them. 

We also examined how much foodstuff a turtle dove needs and how often they should be fed. 

Finally, we learned about some of the best ways to provide food for turtle doves. 

With this information, you should be well on providing the best care for your turtle dove.

Want to learn more about doves?

Ready to boost your knowledge about doves to the next level? Check out the articles below:


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