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UK migrant woodland bird species are disappearing

June 30, 2009
Over the period studied, 17 species showed significant decreases in abundance and 12 species showed significant increases. Whilst population trajectories were diverse, long-distance migrants showed more negative trends than other species and the timing of the changes in their populations was related to their wintering latitude, suggesting that these species may be suffering from environmental changes in the non-breeding season. There was also support for habitat specializations being related to population changes. Additionally, species eating seeds in summer declined and those eating vegetation and making use of the agricultural landscape matrix increased. Therefore wide-scale factors such as landscape-scale processes or processes operating outside of Britain appear to be important in addition to local habitat change, especially for long-distance migrants.
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Huge declines in woodland birds

A nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

The greatest disappearing act has been that of the nightingale, whose numbers fell by 95% over the study period.

The causes of the varying fates of British woodland birds are many and varied.

changes in habitat outside of the UK are also having a major impact, particularly on migrant woodland species that spend part of the year in Africa
the species that winter further south in the humid tropics of west Africa that were suffering
land use changes leading to habitat degradation
This research will hopefully enable us to identify what the changes happening in Africa are that are causing these declines and ultimately, we hope, to enable us to come up with suggestions for solutions that would benefit not just the birds but also the people who live there
availability of food explains other trends

Lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)
More than 80% of lesser spotted woodpeckers have gone
Common Bird Census
data on 49 species between 1967 and 1999

The results of the survey have not been reported before.

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