British singer goes missing

01 May 2011 | No. 2011-19

According to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), one of our most celebrated singers, the Nightingale, has disappeared from large parts of the UK.

  Since 1998 the Nightingale has declined
by over 50%

Since 1998 the Nightingale has declined by over 50% and many of its former breeding haunts have fallen silent. It is unclear exactly what is to blame for the dramatic fall in numbers but it is likely to be a mixture of pressures in its breeding territories in the UK, on migration to and from Africa, and within the wintering area south of the Sahara Desert.

To find out more about the decline of the Nightingale, the BTO has launched the Nightingale Appeal and an accompanying CD of Nightingale song, the profits of which will fund research into this wonderful songster. A survey of Nightingales is planned for 2012, as well as further work looking at habitat, both here and in Africa. BTO have already tracked one Nightingale to Africa and back successfully, using geolocators, and hope to carry out more work on this in 2012 to gain further insights into the birds’ lifestyle. Learning more will help us to understand why we are losing the Nightingale, even from previous strongholds, in areas such as Sussex and East Anglia, and thus provide informed conservation action: action which could reverse the fortunes of the Nightingale, in the hope that this wonderful bird remains a breeding bird in the British Isles for future generations to enjoy.

You can help by buying the ‘Nightingales: A Celebration’ CD which features rare sound archive footage of Nightingales singing to the backdrop of World War II bombers over southern England, and the celebrated Beatrice Harrison playing her cello accompanied by a singing Nightingale - the first recording ever of a wild bird or animal not in captivity. The CD is available for £10 plus £2.50 p&p and you can order your copy by phoning 01842 750050 or by visiting You can also support the work being carried out by making a donation to the appeal.

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.Visit
  2. The CD, Nightingales: A Celebration, contains 22 tracks of some of the best Nightingale recordings available. Each recording is unique, with a variety of rich background sounds, placing the listener in the moment. The CD is only available from the British Trust for Ornithology.  All profits will go towards funding Nightingale research.

Contact information

Paul Stancliffe  (BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050   (9am-5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Rachel Irvine  (Individual Giving Fundraiser)
Office: 01842 750050  (9am - 5.30pm)
Email: fundraising [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contactimages [at] quoting reference 2011-19

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews
Please contact us to book an interview Office: 01842 750050

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