Some 44 million breeding birds have been lost from Britain since 1966, and many species are facing a bleak future. While two turtle doves may represent a true love’s gift in the 12 Days of Christmas carol, birdwatchers could soon struggle to see even one on our shores as the population has plunged by more than 90 per cent. The house sparrow has also seen a significant decline, down by two-thirds in less than 50 years to leave an estimated population of ten million. And its smaller cousin, the tree sparrow, has been even more seriously affected, with a staggering 91 per cent drop in its numbers to leave just 60,000 in the UK. Similar falls have hit the willow tit and the grey partridge. The annual State of the UK’s Birds report estimates there are 166 million nesting birds in Britain, down from 210 million in 1966.