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BTO Blueline
Scolopax rusticola
Woodcock © G H Higginbotham

• Population

• Productivity

• Additional

Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 3 (declining)
UK: amber (>50% population decline, but data possibly unrepresentative)
Long-term trend
UK: rapid decline
UK population size
5,400–13,700 pairs in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC trend: BiE04, APEP06); 78,000 pairs in 2003 (unpublished estimate from GCT)
Status summary
The Woodcock has declined rapidly and significantly on CBC plots. Because CBC did not include many coniferous forests and was concentrated in lowland Britain, however, it is not certain how well this trend represents the whole population. Provisionally, therefore, the results warrant only an amber listing. Range contractions, that may have the same cause as the decline in abundance, were recorded concurrently with part of the CBC decline (Gibbons et al. 1993). Recreational disturbance, the drying out of natural woodlands, overgrazing by deer, declining woodland management, and the maturation of new plantations are possible causes of the Woodcock's decline, but there is no strong hypothesis as yet (Fuller et al. 2005). BBS is inefficient at recording this species, and cannot continue the index series. The first special survey aimed at monitoring the UK's breeding Woodcock took place in 2003 and has provided a baseline for future monitoring (Fuller & Hoodless 2004; also, here). Annual numbers shot in the UK, which include winter visitors from declining populations in Europe, increased during the 1970s and have since been maintained around the higher level. The possible effects of hunting on breeding populations of Woodcock across Europe are little understood.

Population changes

Table of population changes for Woodcock

Source Period
Years Plots
Alert Comment
CBC all habitats 31 1968-1999 20 -74 -88 -49 >50 Small sample
  25 1974-1999 20 -76 -88 -51 >50 Small sample
  10 1989-1999 13 -40 -62 -11 >25 Small sample
  5 1994-1999 13 -24 -44 -3   Small sample


Productivity trends

Productivity information is not currently available for this species

Additional information

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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G.,
Barimore, C., Grantham, M.J., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2009).
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2008.
BTO Research Report No. 516. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 18.02.2009