Once-common birds now at risk of extinction

Once-common birds now at risk of extinction

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Birds that were once common across Britain and Europe are now at risk of extinction, according to a new report from a consortium led by BirdLife International.

The European Red List of Birds shows that 37 species are in danger of being wiped out across Europe - and since this is their only territory, it means they would disappear from the planet completely.

Much-loved British birds are featured on the list, including the Puffin and the Kingfisher, as are the Herring Gull, Lapwing, Curlew and Red Grouse.

It is likely to be incredible to bird enthusiasts that these species are endangered, so frequent a sight were they once in our fields, countryside areas and coastline regions.

Climate change, habitat destruction and changing land management practices were blamed for the shocking decline in numbers of so many species.

The RSPB is a partner of BirdLife International and its conservation director Martin Harper said: "These red list assessments provide another red warning that nature across Europe is in trouble."

He added that the publication should set a benchmark for the European conservation and policy that will be done over the coming years.

Currently, there are 246 species of bird that occur regularly in the UK, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, with 37 of them considered to be facing extinction in the European Union.

Some 18 per cent of a total of 451 European species are listed as at risk across the continent as a whole.

Other birds highlighted as endangered or vulnerable include Bewick's Swan, the Kittiwake, the Fieldfare, the Long-tailed Duck, the Slavonian Grebe and the Willow Tit.

It comes after a study published by the University of Exeter late last year showed that previously common birds are suffering alarming declines in numbers.

Populations have dropped by around 421 million across Europe since 1980 and House Sparrows are among the worst affected, as are Starlings.

Meanwhile, Skylarks were shown to have declined by 37 million and Willow Warblers had reduced in numbers by 34 million.