Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom

From British Birds

Wren. Photo by Mick DrydenThe journal British Birds has published an updated estimate of bird populations in Great Britain and the UK. This follows previous estimates published in 1997 and 2006. There are now thought to be about 84 million breeding pairs of birds in the UK. The ten commonest species contribute 57% of this total, with wren alone providing one in ten of the country’s breeding birds (with 8,600,000 breeding territories). In all, 23 species exceed one million breeding pairs. The individual population estimates come from a wide variety of sources, many from extrapolation of previous estimates by recognised trend measures, others from new surveys and novel analytical approaches developed since the last report. Despite the exceptional level of detail available for some species, many gaps in our knowledge remain. Recommendations are made in the report to allow a continuing improvement in our understanding of the numbers of birds in GB and the UK. There are many opportunities for volunteer and amateur birdwatchers to make a significant contribution.

Atlantic puffin. Photo by Paul MarshallAlthough the figures do not include birds from the Channel Islands the species that BIRDS ON THE EDGE are concerned with are in the list (2006 figures are in brackets):

  • Peregrine 1,500 pairs in UK and Isle of Man (1,283)
  • Atlantic puffin 580,000 breeding pairs (580,799)
  • Turtle dove 14,000 breeding territories (44,000)
  • Cuckoo 16,000 breeding pairs (9,600-20,000)
  • Red-billed chough 930-940 individuals in UK and 450 individuals in Isle of Man (total 1,360-1,367)
  • Raven 7,400 pairs (12,900)
  • Skylark 1,500,000 breeding territories (1,785,000)
  • Common whitethroat 1,100,000 breeding territories (945,000)
  • Dartford warbler 3,200 breeding pairs (1,600-1,890)
  • Stonechat 59,000 breeding pairs (9,000-23,000)
  • Meadow pipit 2,000,000 breeding pairs (1,600,00)
  • Linnet 430,000 breeding pairs (556,000)
  • Yellowhammer 710,000 breeding territories (792,000)
  • Cirl bunting 860 breeding territories (697)

Also of note are the recent colonists and other successes:

  • Little egret 660-740 breeding pairs (146-162)
  • Marsh harrier 320-380 breeding pairs (201)
  • Firecrest 550 breeding territories (80-250).

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