Birds in Decline in the U.K. – 02/12/2007

  • December 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm #1643

    Birds in decline, European survey reveals
    By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 02/12/2007

    Woodland birds that once flourished across Britain are vanishing, according to an extensive study.

    Popular species such as the nightingale, the lesser spotted woodpecker and the wryneck have dwindled almost to the point where they would be classed as endangered.

    A study of bird populations across 20 European countries revealed that some woodland bird numbers had fallen by up to 20 per cent in the past two decades. A separate, smaller study suggested that the situation could be even worse in Britain, with populations falling by more than 25 per cent.

    Experts believe that changes in the management and type of woodland, combined with warming temperatures from climate change, have made it harder for many forest birds to find food and nesting sites.

    Researchers identified 11 species that had reached critical levels and are in need of urgent conservation.

    Richard Gregory of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who chairs the European Bird Census Council, warned that species such as the lesser spotted woodpecker and the wryneck were no longer breeding in the UK.

    “These birds are in danger right across Europe,” he said. “They are not just disappearing here in the UK, but on a much wider scale.

    “Our paper highlights 11 species that for the first time are in real trouble right across Europe. They are quite different birds, however, with different specialisms.”

    The report, in the scientific journal Ibis, uses data from bird conservation charities and ecology centres across Europe.

    A third of the 90 forest birds examined have declined since the 1980s. Specialist birds such as woodpeckers have fallen by 18 per cent, and more common species, such as the nightingale by 13 per cent.

    A second study by the British Trust for Ornithology revealed the worst hit areas in the UK. It showed tree pipit sightings in south east England having fallen by 96 per cent, and willow warbler sightings dropping by 86 per cent in east England.

    Chris Hewson, of the BTO, said: “These declines are not just a random problem but symptomatic of something far more widespread.”

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