The RSPB is planning to put satellite tags on 10 more turtle doves this year as it steps up its efforts to find out why numbers are crashing so precipitously.
The signal from the one individual tagged to date – known as Titan – was lost earlier this year when the bird was known to be in Mali.
In the UK, populations have plummeted by 91 per cent since 1995, while across Europe there has been a 78 per cent decline since 1980.
While conservationists know that turtle doves are experiencing food shortages when they arrive in the UK in the spring and that this is contributing to the problems they face, less is known about the conservation issues in their wintering grounds of West Africa.
“Titan was great, but we need a bigger sample size,” said Tara Proud of the RSPB’s Operation Turtle Dove programme. “We have currently caught and tagged three more, and we are trying to catch more.”