The Turtle Dove has been associated with love and peace in Western culture for more than 2000 years, and remains a strong symbol of devotion and amity to this day. While the colours of the Turtle Dove may resemble to shell of a tortoise, it is surmised that their name actually comes from the “tur-tur” soft cooing sound the birds make.
One of the most recognizable references to Turtle Doves is found in the famous carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, where “Two Turtle Doves” are received on the second day of Christmas. The birds can be seen as an appropriate gift for one’s “true love”, as these birds form strong bonds and usually mate for life.
While the Turtle Dove has been celebrated in poetry, song and literature through many centuries, their numbers have declined significantly in recent years as a result of changes to farming, habitat, and hunting along parts of their migratory path. These birds are forever preserved on Canada’s dollar coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint.