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BTO Blueline
Motacilla flava
Yellow Wagtail © Tommy Holden

• Population

• Productivity

• Additional

Conservation listings
Europe: no SPEC category (favourable conservation status in Europe, not concentrated in Europe)
UK: red (species level, races flavissima and flava)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: priority species
Long-term trend
UK, England: rapid decline
UK population size
11,500–26,500 territories in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC/BBS and WBS trends: BiE04, APEP06)
Status summary
Britain holds almost the entire population of the distinctive race flavissima, and so population changes in the UK are of global conservation signficance. Yellow Wagtails have been in decline since the early 1980s, according to CBC/BBS and especially WBS/WBBS and, after a shift from the green to the amber list in 2002, the species has now been moved to the red list (Eaton et al. 2009). Gibbons et al. (1993) identified a range contraction towards a core area in central England, concurrent with the early years of decline. Farmland drainage, the conversion of pasture to arable land, the change from spring to winter cereals, and the loss of insects associated with cattle have been cited as possible causes (Gibbons et al. 1993, Nelson et al. 2003). Although nest record sample sizes are small, there has been a notable reduction in brood size since the mid 1960s, and the species is listed as of NRS concern (Leech & Barimore 2008). The European trend, which includes other races of the species, has also been strongly downward since 1980 (PECBMS 2010).
CBC/BBS UK graph

1967-2008: -77% (confidence interval -90% to -55%)

Population changes in detail
Demographic trends
Additional information

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This report should be cited as: Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2010). Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 04.10.2010