This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Feeding chiefly on small birds, particularly the skylark and other denizens of the field, living on herbage and on seeds and grain, including mice, voles and beetles, this bird must be regarded as more useful than injurious to the general welfare of the nation, though it certainly preys on small game, both winged and ground, and even pounces upon chickens. It is, however, rare, and while game-rearing lasts is likely to be, in spite of County Council regulations in respect of egg and bird-taking preclusions, inasmuch as should-be informers are really the "breakers," well knowing that their dastardly work has no surveillance, and no hawk or owl suspected of interfering with game preservation and poultry rearing is countenanced, and therefore arboriculture, agriculture, and horticulture suffer in the degree of the decimation.
This bird comes under the same category as the fieldfare in proclivities, and is usually associated with it in visits ' to this country.
Probably no visitor to Britain is more appreciated in coverts, parks and pleasure grounds than this; the cooing and evolution of the birds appealing to both ear and eye in the most agreeable way. But turtledoves may be protected so closely as, like wood-pigeons by game-preservation, to become injurious to agricultural crops, for it must be remembered that they are vegetarians, and obtained at the expense of the farmer.
Fig. 122. - The Turtledove.
Worms, slugs and insects devoured by this bird, and the brood more than compensate for any damage done to grass or to corn: therefore protection should be accorded to it, though this will always be limited, as the landrail is good eating, and in Ireland game.