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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
'Red alert' for garden birds
Starling
The number of starlings has gone into sharp decline
Two of the nation's favourite birds have been put on a "red list" of dwindling species.

A report by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says the populations of starlings and house sparrows have declined rapidly.

However, successful breeding programmes have seen rare birds of prey including the red kite and osprey taken off the red list.

The latest figures were announced at Rutland Water in the East Midlands where thousands of enthusiasts were meeting for the UK's largest bird fair on Friday and Saturday.

Species added to red list
house sparrow
lesser spotted woodpecker
yellowhammer
starling
marsh tit
willow tit
ring ouzel
grasshopper warble
Savi's warbler
The RSPB has three lists for birds, red, amber and green, depending on the changes in their numbers.

Birds that show a steep decline are put on the red list while species which show a moderate decline are amber-listed.

Those not decreasing significantly, or rising in number are put on the green list.

Andy Waters, from the RSPB, said it was important to reverse the decline in the numbers of sparrows and starlings.

He said the charity would be telling visitors to the fair how they can use their gardens to encourage the birds to breed.

Species taken off red list
red kite
osprey
marsh harrier
merlin
Dartford warbler
There was good news though, he said. A breeding programme at Rutland Water which has involved tracking them by radio has seen Osprey more than double in recent years.

"They are breeding at Rutland and certainly in the next two or three years we will see them spreading across the East Midlands."

Species review

He said another programme at Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire had been successful in increasing red kite numbers.

The review, the first one since 1996, covers 247 species with each one placed on one of the three lists.

The RSPB has put 40 species on the red list, 121 on the amber list and 86 on the green list.

The report - "The Population Status of Birds in the UK" - has been endorsed by 14 conservation and bird charities.


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03 Jan 02 | Scotland
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