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Positive changes
The Great Spotted Woodpecker population has trebled in the UK since 1967.

Although much of this report focuses on declines and their conservation significance, there are many species that are increasing in number as UK breeding birds.

In the current report, there are 23 species for which our most representative long-term trends show a statistically significant doubling in population size over periods of 22–49 years.

These are Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, GoosanderBuzzard, Coot, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed TitChiffchaff, BlackcapReed Warbler, NuthatchWren and Goldfinch (in taxonomic order). Long-tailed Tit and Reed Warbler have been added to this list in the current report, but Sparrowhawk has been removed as the population increase has dropped just below the threshold for inclusion following ten years of mostly negative annual changes.

The steepest long-term increases we have measured have been for Buzzard, Greylag GooseGreat Spotted WoodpeckerCollared Dove and Shelduck, which have all increased by 300% or more since 1967, although Collared Dove numbers have started to decrease more recently.

The 23 species that have doubled over the long term are set against the 26 that have halved in number over similar periods (see Declining species). The gap between these two totals had widened over recent years up to and including the BirdTrends 2015 report, but has since narrowed by seven species.

Seven further species, monitored only over a shorter period, have also more than doubled (see Increasing species). These are Mandarin DuckGadwall, Little Egret, Red Kite, Barn Owl and Ring-necked Parakeet (all monitored by BBS over 21-years) and Cetti's Warbler (monitored by CES over  the period 1990–2016). Three additional species have more than halved over this shorter period (see Declining species).

For ten species that are listed in this report for a population decline over the long term – ShelduckGarden WarblerDipperSpotted FlycatcherDunnockHouse SparrowYellow WagtailMeadow Pipit, YellowhammerCorn Bunting,  – the decline has apparently started to level off, or has ceased, during the most recent ten-year period. Signs of recovery noted last year for Wood Warbler are no longer evident, however. While indications are positive, wide confidence intervals for some of these species allows for the possibility that their severe decline is, in fact, continuing (see Ten-year trends and evidence of species recovery).

Seven further formerly declining species – Whitethroat, Song ThrushLinnetTree Sparrow, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting – have reversed their population trend to show significant increases over the last ten years. Whitethroat has already been moved to the green list (BoCC4). For all these species, however, population levels remain severely depleted, despite the recent increases.


This report should be cited as: Woodward, I.D., Massimino, D., Hammond, M.J., Harris, S.J., Leech, D.I., Noble, D.G., Walker, R.H., Barimore, C., Dadam, D., Eglington, S.M., Marchant, J.H., Sullivan, M.J.P., Baillie, S.R. & Robinson, R.A. (2018) BirdTrends 2018: trends in numbers, breeding success and survival for UK breeding birds. Research Report 708. BTO, Thetford. www.bto.org/birdtrends