Cuckoo Added to List of Threatened Birds in UK

cuckoo bird photo

Photo: MBoy68, CC
The Cuckoo in the Coal Mine
According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), about 1 in 5 species of birds in the UK is threatened (compared to 16% in 2002). One familiar bird that has just joined the sad club of the 'red list' is the cuckoo. Known for its song and for brood parasitism, the cuckoo joins the wood warbler and tree pipit in the category of "widespread but threatened" birds. What are the causes of this population decline?
cuckoo bird photo

Photo: Wikipedia, GFDL

The RSPB writes:

Their addition to the red list is highlighting the concern that many long-distance migratory birds nesting in Europe and wintering in Africa are increasingly in trouble. Currently 21 of the birds on the red list are summer visitors to the UK, with the majority of these spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa.

The continued decline of widespread farmland and woodland birds is a theme which has developed since the compilation of the last list in 2002. Lapwing, a formerly much-more widespread wading bird, and the hawfinch, a woodland bird largely confined to England, have both joined the red list in the latest assessment. [...]

While a link to climate change has not been demonstrated, the addition of five species on the southern edge of their nesting range in Britain (Temminck’s stint, ruff, whimbrel, redwing and fieldfare) to the red list may provide some the evidence of range shifts. These species have only had a toehold in the UK in recent decades and now that appears to be slipping. (However, redwing and fieldfare are still plentiful visitors to the UK in winter).

But it's not all bad news. Six species have been removed from the 2002 red list: the stone-curlew, woodlark, quail, Scottish crossbill, bullfinch and reed bunting. It's either because of a recovery in their numbers or range, or because of a better understanding of their populations. These species are now placed on the amber list (not quite out of the woods yet).

If you care about the protection of birds in the UK, you can help by joining the RSPB.

Via The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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