Puffins and curlews added to 'red list' of threatened UK birds

Curlews and puffins have been added to the "red list" of threatened UK birds as experts warn that more than a quarter of the nation's birds are struggling to survive.

The UK is home to a quarter of the global breeding population of curlews, Europe's largest and most distinctive wading bird, but numbers fell 64% from 1970 to 2014 according to the State of the UK's Birds 2016 report.

An international action plan has been created to find ways to help the bird, which is considered to be "near-threatened" globally, with the once-resilient population now being hit by predators.

There are 67 birds on the red list in need of conservation action, including:

  • Nightingales

  • Pied flycatchers

  • Merlins

There is good news for some species in the latest report, with recent surveys showing an increase of 15% in golden eagle numbers in Britain and a boost to rare cirl buntings, which now have more than 1,000 breeding pairs.

Golden eagles, which are only found in Scotland, are thought to be benefiting from more monitoring and tagging of eagles, as well as the introduction of new legislation, which serve as deterrents against illegal persecution.

There are 67 birds on the red list, including the curlew. Credit: AP

The report comes from the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), together with government conservation agencies across the UK.

Geoff Hilton, head of conservation science at WWT, said: "The call of the curlew is one of the really magical elements of British nature, celebrated in poetry and song.

"Now we know that we are losing them; fewer and fewer people are getting to experience their song. But the curlew has one big thing in its favour: it is loved by many, many people.

"I've seen the enthusiasm and determination to turn their fortunes around, from farmers, conservationists and the public, and this convinces me that we can do so."