Science, Tech & Environment

Bird Population on Decline in Britain

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Britain has lost 20 million house sparrows since 1966. (Photo: RSPB/Nigel Blake)

Brits love their feathered friends.

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Birdspotting is a popular pass-time in Britain.

But it's getting harder.

A new survey says Britain has been losing birds at the rate of one nesting pair every minute for almost 50 years.

In all that's about 44 million fewer birds, since 1966.

"There are many types affected," says Richard Gregory, a scientist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and one of the report's authors, "It's birds in the farm environment, and woodlands and some of our sea birds and sea ducks living around the coast have been severely affected."

The causes, says Gregory, include a number of land management issues, but the primary issue is climate change.

He says it's the same in the USA, where Gregory has worked with the Audobon Society on their annual bird census.

Within the big picture of decline, some species are doing fine.

For example, Gregory says most migratory warblers are in big trouble, but one, the black cap, has adapted successfully to climate change.

It has changed its migration pattern and now winters in southern Europe, instead of Africa.

The other groups involved in the UK report are the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Birdlife International.