Major decline hits Christmas birds
Two of the UK’s most well-known Christmas birds have seen major declines in the past few years as farmland bird numbers fell to new record lows, figures have shown.
Turtle doves and grey partridges, which feature in the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, have seen numbers plummet by almost 60% and 30% respectively in the five years to 2010, in what conservationists described as a “wildlife disaster”.
The RSPB warned that if turtle dove numbers continued to decline at current rates, there could be fewer than 1,000 pairs by the middle of the next decade and the farmland bird could be facing extinction in the UK.
The latest figures come as conservation groups raise concerns that European Union (EU) funding for wildlife-friendly farming will be cut. Turtle doves were once widespread in southern Britain but the population is now estimated at just 14,000 pairs, down to less than a tenth of 1970 levels.
Conservation experts do not know exactly why the birds are declining. Potential issues include the availability of food on UK farmland, being shot on their migratory route through the Mediterranean, impacts of climate change in the wintering grounds in Africa and the threat of disease.
The grey partridge population is estimated to be around 43,000 pairs, according to the RSPB, but today’s figures show that it too has seen numbers tumble by more than nine-tenths in four decades. As a species which spends all year in the UK, the causes of its decline are domestic.
RSPB scientist Dr Mark Eaton said: “Losing six out of 10 of our turtle doves and three out of 10 grey partridges in five years is nothing short of an unsustainable wildlife disaster. The turtle dove is in a great degree of danger – if this trend were to continue we could be down to fewer than 1,000 pairs by the middle of the next decade, with complete extinction a real possibility.
“We are urging the Government to take urgent action to save these species from becoming just memories within the Twelve Days of Christmas festive classic.”
A Defra spokeswoman said: “We’re doing more than ever to protect our wildlife. The area of land protected or managed under woodland and agri-environment schemes is increasing. Alongside this, the condition of our protected sites is improving and the public are giving more of their time to conservation volunteering.
“Our bird populations are a good indicator of the wider health of our environment and it is clear that more needs to be done to support the recovery of farmland and woodland birds. We all have a part to play, and we will continue to work with conservation groups and landowners to reverse this trend.”
Latest posts by Sally - Silversurfer's Editor (see all)
- 8 Excellent Personalised Gift Ideas for Christmas - December 4, 2020
- Silversurfers Shop – your one-stop shop for Christmas! - December 2, 2020
- TEMPUR® have a range of mattresses to suit all types of sleepers - December 2, 2020
- Win a prize bundle from Kennedy Wild Bird Food Ltd worth £150 - December 1, 2020
- SAVE £27 on six great wines from around the world - December 1, 2020
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!