15% of British Birds Facing Extinction…

27January 2014

 

15% of British Birds Facing Extinction

When you live in such a temperate climate, its difficult to see how climate change has seriously ravaged our environment – it has been told so many times, that it does not affect us anyone.  But a recent assessment carried out by a consortium led by Bird Life International, has revealed that 15% or 37 species of birds here in the UK are categorized as endangered.

That includes the common British birds like the Kingfisher, once abundant along the riverbanks, and the Hadrian’s Wall puffins. The findings point out that bird populations have dropped by around 421 million across Europe since 1980. The list also includes other birds like the herring gull, the lapwing, curlew, kittiwakes and red grouse. The Balearic Shearwater, a regular seabird visitor from the Mediterranean to UK shores, is listed as Critically Endangered.

The complete list of endangered birds is published on the European Red List of Birds. Some of these birds are native to Europe alone, so their extinction here means they will be totally wiped out of the world.

The main cause behind this decline in numbers is climate change which causes loss of habitat and food for most of these birds. The Turtle Dove, red-listed in the UK, has its population reduced by an alarming 92% in the last 25 years due to reduced feeding opportunities following changes in agricultural practices. The puffins are also on the decline due to the decline in sandeel population, the puffin’s main food.

This red-list of endangered birds is an eye opener as it shows how troubled nature is in Europe. Birds like Kingfisher and Curlew were abundant in the UK even two decades ago and it was unthinkable that they will become endangered one day. A previous study conducted by the University of Exeter showed that previously common birds are suffering alarming declines in numbers.

The new list shows that almost 18% or one-fifth of the 451 bird species found in Europe, face extinction. Of them, 11 are critically endangered, 16 endangered and 55 vulnerable. Analysts feel that this list will help kick-start new conservation work, to help these endangered species from getting extinct like the Dodo and passenger pigeon.

The list may have brought some grim news, but it also shows that the conservation work such as eradication of invasive species and insulation of killer power lines, carried out by different agencies have paid off and some species, like Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, and Lesser Kestrel, which were considered to be regionally threatened, are now classified as Least Concern in Europe.