[WATCH] The differences between quail and turtle dove explained ahead of new hunting season

BirdLife Malta launches campaign #NotAQuail ahead of new hunting season which starts on Easter Sunday and lasts until April 21 • Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Clint Camilleri calls for strict enforcement

The new dates for the spring hunting season will leave the turtle dove – a protected species – at enormous risk, BirdLife Malta said
The new dates for the spring hunting season will leave the turtle dove – a protected species – at enormous risk, BirdLife Malta said

As part of a new campaign aimed to raise awareness on identifying and reporting illegal hunting, BirdLife Malta have released videos to help the public differentiate between quail and turtle dove.

This year’s spring hunting season for quail begins tomorrow – thereby coinciding with the peak migration of the turtle dove and placing them at particular risk.

“The turtle dove the quail are two bird species with very different features from one another and which make them easy to distinguish in terms of appearance, flight patterns, hunting and luring methods,” the NGO said.

An Ornis Committee meeting, during which the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) would have announced the number of hunting licences granted for this year’s season, was suddenly called off, BirdLife said.

This means that the number of registered hunters this season is unknown, as requests for information by the group were not answered.

A meeting of this type normally takes place at the beginning of every hunting season.

Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Clint Camilleri called for strict enforcement, including spot-checks, for the duration of the spring hunting season in order to prevent illegalities.

Camilleri explained that the turtle dove is a protected species which can only be hunted in September. Police and Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU officials) will be on the ground to assist in law enforcement, he added.

The video released by BirdLife attempts to educate the public on how to spot illegal hunting and report it.

Appearance

The quail has the shape of a chicken, with a brownish colour. It is about 15cm in length and has long, pointed wings.

The turtle dove has the shape of a pigeon. It is greyish in colour with a pinkish breast and white on its neck. It is around 26-28cm in length.

Flight patterns

The quail migrates during the night, and often hides in vegetation.

The turtle dove arrives in small flocks early in the morning, usually flying above ground darting between trees.

Hunting methods

Since the quail flies low, hunters with their dogs would flush through vegetation.

The turtle dove is often targeted from hides, with the hunter aiming up.

Luring methods

Use of electronic callers for quail is illegal, and hunters are only allowed to lure with live quail in small cages.

Luring or attracting the turtle dove in any manner is illegal, but it is often done through the use of fluttering decoys, live birds in cages, or electronic devices mimicking calls of birds.

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