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Where are all the Turtle Doves and Partridges? - British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

The latest BirdTrends report from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) shows a very mixed bag for our birds, with some showing marked increases and others in steep decline. The report summarises the efforts of many thousands of volunteers who participate in BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), Ringing and Nest Record Schemes.

Grey Partridges by Allan Drewitt
Grey Partridges by Allan Drewitt

The longest-term information shows that 31 species have declined significantly by more than 50% over the past 20-50 years. At least half of these are farmland birds, but the list also includes specialists of upland, woodland and urban habitats. Only Bullfinch, Linnet and Tree Sparrow have shown any signs that their downward trend may be reversing over the last decade, although numbers remain far below those previously recorded.

Two species particularly associated with the well-known Christmas song are far less common than they used to be. The Turtle Dove’s demise is now almost total, showing a 98% decline over the same period. This is the largest decline of any UK species and suggests that this once familiar bird will soon disappear from the British countryside. In the 1970s there were 10 Grey Partridges for each one recorded today.
Over the same period, 27 species show a significant doubling in numbers. This includes common garden birds like Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker and generalists such as Carrion Crow and Magpie, as well as several widespread species of waterfowl and pigeons.

Read the report here.