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More British Birds Now Endangered

The latest State of the UK’s Birds report lists 67 species as being on the "red list". This means that no less than 15 species have been added to the list since the last report of its kind in 2009. Conservationists are now calling for urgent action to save these birds.

The UK’s Most Threatened Wild Birds

The disturbing statistics indicate that more than a quarter of the species native to the UK are now threatened with extinction. Eight species are considered to be at risk of global extinction: the balearic shearwater, aquatic warbler, common pochard, long-tailed duck, velvet scoter, slavonian grebe, puffin and turtle dove.

The Factors Which Impact Bird Populations

David Noble, principal ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and one of the authors of the report has expressed his concern over the findings. He has explained that several factors have contributed to the increase in the number of endangered birds. These include afforestation, farming practices, increases in the number of predators like foxes and climate change.

The State of The UK’s Birds report is produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the BTO and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, in partnership with the UK’s statutory nature conservation bodies. It gathers and then collates material from a variety of bird studies and bird surveys to produce an accurate picture of the status of the various avian species.

The Curlew

Conservationists are particularly worried about the curlew which is Europe’s largest wader. This bird has experienced a population decline of 64% since 1970, mainly due to habitat loss. Up to 27% of the world’s curlews are found in the UK. Research is underway to determine the exact reasons for the decline of the species.

The RSPB believe that the curlew is one of Britain’s most important birds. You can see these wonderful creatures on estuaries in the winter and on moorland in summer. The birds boast a distinctive and dramatic long and curved beak, long legs and a memorable call.

The Good News

Thankfully the report wasn’t all doom and gloom. Some species have enjoyed a significant recovery in their numbers. The population of golden eagles is up 15% since 2003 and breeding pairs of the cirl bunting have risen from just 118 in 1989 to over 1000. After years of effort on the part of conservationists, the red kite, once severely threatened, has now returned to the green list and can be seen across the UK.

These birds have been able to prosper once more as they have been protected egg collectors and from attacks by people who run grouse moors . The bittern and the nightjar have been moved from the red list to the amber list and 22 species have been moved from the amber list to the green list.

More work must be done to save all of our species but at least we have a good understanding of the situation and know which birds efforts must be focussed on.


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