MEXICO: The latest Birds of Conservation Concern assessment found that 67 of the UK’s 244 birds are now under threat, with well-known species including the curlew, puffin and nightingale joining others already on the red list such as turtle doves, cuckoos and starlings.
Migratory species of birds make major contributions to resource fluxes, biomass transfer, nutrient transport, predator-prey interactions, and food-web structure across ecosystems; yet more than half of migratory birds across all major migratory routes have declined in number significantly over the past 30 years, highlighting the need to better protect the areas on which these birds rely.
The team examined more than 8,200 areas that had been identified as internationally important locations for migratory bird populations. The upland bird populations have been increasingly getting pressurized by forestry, recreation, renewable energy generation, shooting and water storage. “Though it’s easy to get disheartened by the worsening status of our bird populations, the key message is that if we have the knowledge and the support, we can turn fortunes around”, Richard Hearn, head of monitoring at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), one of the organisations collaborating on the report, said.
The puffin, with its distinctive coloured bill, is experiencing severe population declines globally, and is now at risk of global extinction.
Woodland birds the nightingale, pied flycatcher and woodcock – still officially classed as a game bird and legal quarry, in season – have also been added to the red list.
And the bittern, famous for its booming call, has been moved from the red list to an amber listing, thanks in large part to work to preserve its habitat, including the extensive reed beds of the Somerset Levels.
Both the bittern and nightjar have seen an increase in numbers in the wake of targeted conservation action.