Bird populations in the park

Defra’s recent report, Wild Bird Populations in England, 1970 to 2018, ends with a very disturbing Annex called Trends in bird species, by habitat group, in England.

The data shows long term population trends measured over the period from 1970 to 2017, and short term trends measured in the five years between 2012 and 2017.

These data demonstrate that many of the park’s bird species have shown a strong decline in the short term. Here are lists of these species:

Greenfinch
Whitethroat
Chaffinch
Lesser spotted woodpecker
Marsh tit
Willow warbler
Sparrowhawk
Spotted flycatcher

whitethroat. lesser spotted woodpecker, willow warbler

Grey partridge
Coot
Lapwing
Swallow
Swift
Collared dove
House martin

coot, collared dove, sparrowhawk

Short term trends are responses to a different set of factors than long term trends. For instance, in the five years between 2012 and 2017, the 11% annual fall in the populations of greenfinches (see header picture) is attributed to disease; in the long term, measured from 1970, their annual decline has been much less, 1.7%, and is believed to be the result of habitat loss.

Adverse weather in a single year can cause dramatic losses from which a species’ numbers can take several breeding seasons to recover. Agricultural practises, too, can show short term trends that affect a species food supply or nesting sites.

It is very worrying that so many of our park’s species seem to be in trouble at the moment.


Here is a post from November of last year about one of the park’s bird species that is suffering a strong decline in the short term:

2 thoughts on “Bird populations in the park

  1. We have replaced the picture of the lesser spotted woodpecker in this post; we had mistakenly used a picture of an immature greater spotted woodpecker. Our apologies,

  2. Sadly in recent years so many species of birds seem to be suffering from nasty diseases and parasites. It is very distressing to see them suffering but not be able to help.

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