Birds

State of UK Birds

The latest updates of the UK and England bird indicators based on wild birds population trends were published on November 23, 2017. I wrote about the State of the UK’s Birds in 2010 and thought you might enjoy an update.

2016 Update

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) provides a summary of the findings.

In 2016, the UK breeding farmland bird index fell 56% since 1970 and 9% since 2010. The red-listed Turtle Dove suffered a 70% loss in just the past 5 years which is the steepest decline. This shows that in spite of the long-term decline, this one and some other farmland birds are still in trouble.

The UK breeding woodland bird index fell 23% since 1970, but had no significant change since 2010, for either woodland specialists or woodland generalists. The Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Garden Warbler have significantly declined, while some birds such as the Wren, Spotted Flycatcher and Pied Flycatcher populations have increased.

In 2016, thUK birds garden warblere breeding water and wetland bird index had decreased 8% from its 1975 level, but there was no meaningful change between 2010 and 2015. Over the long-term, species associated with reed-beds and slow-flowing or standing water bodies have fared better than waders or species associated with fast-flowing water.

BTO manages volunteer surveyors to provide unbiased information about birds and their habitats.

Article from October 20, 2010:

A coalition of UK conservation organizations has published a report on the successes and lack therein of the birds in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. In 1994, the UK government identified 26 species of bird most in need of conservation, and started on a detailed plan of action, reports Surfbirds News.

skylark one of the UK Birds being studiedCalled State of the UK’s Birds 2010, the report shows that by today, the populations of over 12 species which were in steep decline have slowed their decline, and 6 species are increasing their numbers. Unfortunately, the overall number of species in trouble has risen. All this means the UK has not met international or EU biodiversity targets for slowing or halting the loss of birds.

One positive light in this story is the thousands of volunteers who survey the birds in their immediate world and submit the evidence to tell scientists how the birds are faring. Such knowledge helps to direct scientific research to where it’s needed, and spark conservation action to help species.

As well, there are current efforts to eliminate invasive (non-native) rats and mice, and to reduce the fishing industry’s bycatch, both of which damage bird populations.

The picture for endangered birds in the UK is currently bleak, but if landowners, hobbyists, biologists, NGO’s, and government all work together things will hopefully improve for UK birds.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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