Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Rare birds 'faring better' in UK

Starling (PA)
Widespread birds such as the starling are in decline

Rare birds in the UK have been faring far better than their more common counterparts over the last decade, according to a new assessment.

The research shows almost 60% of the 63 rare birds that breed in the UK have increased over the last 10 years.

By contrast, only about one third of common species have increased over the same period.

Just 28% of rare birds have decreased over the same period, compared with four out of every 10 common birds.

The rare birds described in the assessment with increasing populations include the osprey, corncrake, avocet, cirl bunting and stone-curlew. All of these birds are subject to conservation action.

The declining common birds include the linnet, nightingale, swift, guillemot, starling, house sparrow and red grouse. These are suffering declines for a variety of reasons, including changes in farming practices.

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Dr David Noble, from the British Trust for Ornithology, said: "That some of our rarer birds have responded to targeted conservation action is great news. It shows just what can be achieved.

"What we need to do now is to continue the good work and use some of the lessons we have learned to help our more common birds."

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's conservation director, said: "Over the last decade we've enjoyed some cracking conservation successes, including removing some threatened species from the Red List and increasing the populations of red kite, bittern, avocet, osprey, stone-curlew and cirl bunting.

"However, these triumphs are countered by continued declines of some widespread species, like the skylark, kestrel, willow warbler and grey partridge."

The overview of 210 native breeding birds has been produced by a coalition of conservation organisations, to mark the publication of the State of the UK's Birds report, which is in its 10th year.

The report is published by the RSPB for a coalition of conservation organisations.



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