Species links


BirdTrends partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo
Ten-year trends and evidence of species recovery

If the status of species that have shown long-term declines were now improving, we would expect to find trends to be more positive in recent years than in the earlier part of the time series. To examine this, we list in Table B1 the best change estimates over the most recent ten-year period for which we have data (2003–13 in all but three cases), for all of the declining species listed in Tables A1–A3 (previous section). For Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Woodcock and Shelduck, the ten-year period for which data are tabulated is 1989–99.

Table B1 also includes five further species that are listed red or amber in BoCC4 because of recent breeding decline, and for which we can report ten-year trends, but which lacked annual monitoring data before 1994. These are Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler and Wood Warbler (all red listed), and Swift and Red Grouse (both amber listed).

Table B1 Ten-year trends for species that have shown long-term declines

Species Period
(yrs)
Source Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
Turtle Dove 10 CBC/BBS UK -84 -87 -81 >50  
Willow Tit 10 CBC/BBS UK -56 -74 -52 >50  
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 10 CBC to 1999 -51 -75 -22 >50 Small sample
Little Owl 10 CBC/BBS UK -48 -67 -42 >25  
Greenfinch 10 CBC/BBS UK -47 -49 -45 >25  
Redshank 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -43 -58 -23 >25  
Snipe 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -43 -65 -12 >25  
Cuckoo 10 CBC/BBS England -42 -46 -37 >25  
Starling 10 CBC/BBS England -41 -45 -38 >25  
Woodcock 10 CBC to 1999 -40 -62 -11 >25 Small sample
Grey Partridge 10 CBC/BBS UK -39 -46 -29 >25  
Grey Wagtail 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -39 -47 -31 >25  
Lapwing 10 CBC/BBS UK -38 -45 -33 >25  
Mistle Thrush 10 CBC/BBS UK -35 -38 -30 >25  
House Martin 10 CBC/BBS England -30 -36 -24 >25  
Marsh Tit 10 CBC/BBS UK -30 -40 -17 >25  
Whinchat 10 BBS UK -30 -40 -11 >25  
Common Sandpiper 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -29 -41 -17 >25  
Little Grebe 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -29 -45 1    
Kestrel 10 CBC/BBS England -28 -32 -22 >25  
Swift 10 BBS UK -28 -34 -21 >25  
Tree Pipit 10 CBC/BBS England -27 -43 -9 >25  
Spotted Flycatcher 10 CBC/BBS UK -25 -40 -9    
Curlew 10 CBC/BBS England -19 -25 -13    
Linnet 10 CBC/BBS England -16 -20 -9    
Dipper 10 WBS/WBBS waterways -15 -26 5    
Yellow Wagtail 10 CBC/BBS UK -15 -26 2    
Song Thrush 10 CBC/BBS UK -13 -16 -9    
Corn Bunting 10 CBC/BBS UK -12 -32 9    
Meadow Pipit 10 CBC/BBS England -11 -19 -5    
Sedge Warbler 10 CBC/BBS UK -11 -23 0    
Skylark 10 CBC/BBS England -11 -15 -7    
Grasshopper Warbler 10 BBS UK -9 -22 23    
Willow Warbler 10 CBC/BBS England -7 -13 -1    
Wood Warbler 10 BBS UK -6 -48 65    
Red-legged Partridge 10 CBC/BBS UK -4 -11 3    
Yellowhammer 10 CBC/BBS UK -4 -9 3    
House Sparrow 10 CBC/BBS England -2 -6 3    
Nightingale 10 CBC/BBS England -1 -31 47    
Tawny Owl 10 CBC/BBS UK -1 -30 7    
Garden Warbler 10 CBC/BBS UK 1 -9 9    
Dunnock 10 CBC/BBS UK 3 0 6    
Shelduck 10 CBC to 1999 3 -21 40    
Reed Bunting 10 CBC/BBS UK 9 0 20    
Red Grouse 10 BBS UK 16 -1 31    
Bullfinch 10 CBC/BBS UK 19 10 27    
Whitethroat 10 CBC/BBS UK 21 17 27    
Tree Sparrow 10 CBC/BBS England 48 20 75    
Lesser Redpoll 10 CBC/BBS England 71 26 113    

Species are listed in ascending order of population change. Thus the species with the steepest recent decline appear first. Towards the foot of the table are species that remain in long-term decline but have shown partial recovery of those losses during the recent ten-year period.

As indicated by their position at the top of Table B1, there is high confidence that the populations of Turtle Dove and Willow Tit have halved within just the last ten years, or even a shorter period. These are the only species in long-term decline that suffered a 50% fall during 2003–13, but Lesser Spotted Woodpecker also met these criteria during the most recent ten-year period for which data are available. A further 18 species also continue to raise alerts, having declined significantly by more than 25% (but less than 50%) in their most recent ten-year period. All these declines compound earlier losses for these species.

The ongoing declines of so many of the species listed in Table B1 raise serious conservation concern. A special case is Turtle Dove, for which the current rate of decline is not only very steep but also accelerating (84%, from 80% in last year's report).

The 25% threshold, which is used to define decreases over the 25-year period that are worthy of amber listing, is equivalent to a change of 11% (10.9%) over ten years, assuming a constant rate of change. Thus a decrease of 11% or greater listed in Table B1 indicates that these species (32 in all, including non-significant declines for Little Grebe, Dipper, Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting) are on course for new or renewed red or amber listing for breeding population decline.

A smaller decrease, or an increase, indicates that the population decline may be easing off. Species that have declined in the longer term but with losses smaller than 11%, or with no significant population change, over the ten-year period are Grasshopper Warbler, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Red-legged Partridge, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Nightingale, Tawny Owl, Garden Warbler, Shelduck and Red Grouse.

Six species at the foot of the table show significant gains in population over the last ten years. The strong increase in Lesser Redpoll and Tree Sparrow numbers is very welcome but the upturns are coming from such a low level that numbers remain far below those of the mid 1970s, with the population trend graphs still showing little sign of clear recovery. Whitethroat numbers have increased steadily since the mid 1980s but are still far below the level prior to their population crash in 1968/69. Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Dunnock remain on the amber list, because their recent increases also represent only a small recovery from earlier losses.

 

This report should be cited as: Robinson, R.A., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Massimino, D., Sullivan, M.J.P., Eglington, S.M., Barimore, C., Dadam, D., Downie, I.S., Hammond, M.J., Harris, S.J., Noble, D.G., Walker, R.H. & Baillie, S.R. (2015) BirdTrends 2015: trends in numbers, breeding success and survival for UK breeding birds. Research Report 678. BTO, Thetford. www.bto.org/birdtrends