The familiar sound of the cuckoo is becoming a less heard occurrence in Britain, and the bird has been added to the RSPB‘s ‘red list’ of endangered species in the UK.
Reasons for the decline in numbers of the well known bird are not known for certain, but are believed could be down to a number of factors which are currently being looked into in order to find out whether more can be done to reverse the population drop. These factors include loss of habitats and food sources, and the decline of other species that cuckoos rely on in order for their eggs to be cared for and their young to be raised.
In addition to the cuckoo, a number of other birds have been added to the red list as concerns grow for their numbers, such as the lapwing, herring gull and yellow wagtail. Surprisingly a number of garden birds once found in abundance are listed too, such as the song thrush, starling and house sparrow. Out of a total of 246 bird species assessed, 21% of them have been classified as ‘red list’ species, figures which the RSPB has called “scandalous”. RSPB’s director of conservation, Mark Avery, commented,
“When the RSPB was formed 120 years ago, few would have been concerned about the cuckoo, lapwing, starling or house sparrow. Now, these birds are some of our greatest conservation priorities.”
Although the number of species in the danger zone has increased since the last assessment was carried out, there has been some positive news for a number of other bird species whose numbers have increased. This is largely due to better farm and woodland management, and in some cases is down to a greater level of understanding of bird numbers.
The outcomes of this research is testament to the importance of taking action to prevent further declines in populations to protect and ensure the biodiversity of our countryside and planet. You can help by supporting conservation charities such as the RSPB and Wildlife Trust; by carrying out surveys of the birds and creatures you see in your garden, and by wildlife gardening to make your garden, no matter how big or small, attractive and beneficial to wildlife.