141 hen harrier chicks fledge as encouraging population growth recorded - Natural England

a Hen Harrier with outstretched wings standing over 2 eggs
Credit: Natural England

Encouraging population increase as 54 nests recorded

141 hen harrier chicks have fledged in England this year – the seventh year in a row that numbers have increased – according to statistics released today by Natural England (16 September).

Hen harriers are rare and birds of prey that have become an icon for conservation and Nature recovery in England. They are beautiful, striking birds, with a wingspan of over a metre. In Spring they engage in graceful, dramatic ‘sky dancing’ courtship displays, as well a ‘throw and catch’ transfers of food between airborne birds.

The increase in hen harrier chicks successfully fledging means that 2023 is another record year, following 119 chicks recorded from nests in County Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire in 2022. There are now more hen harriers in England since they were lost as a breeding species around 200 years ago.

Hen harriers were driven to extinction across mainland Britain during the 19th century as the result of illegal persecution and disturbance, only beginning to recolonise during the 1960’s. Just a decade ago there were no hen harriers nesting successfully in England.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said: “The continuing year on year increase in the number of hen harriers fledging from English nests is fantastic to see, and shows how through partnership work it is possible to reverse Nature’s decline, even in the most challenging of circumstances. The encouraging numbers we see again this year are testament to the volunteers, landowners and partner organisations who have worked so hard to support and monitor these birds.”

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Posted On: 18/09/2023

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