Upland birds

In just five years, the population of the peregrine falcon in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire has tumbled from 30 birds to just a single breeding pair

Once described as the “Switzerland of England”, the Forest of Bowland offers an ideal habitat for the peregrine falcon. With its rocky outcrops and vast tracts of upland, it was until recently home to a thriving population of some 15 pairs of Britain’s fastest bird of prey. But almost as rapidly as Falco peregrinus sweeps from the sky to secure its quarry, the number of the species in the 880-square-kilometre beauty spot stretching across Lancashire has plummeted. In just five years, the population has tumbled from 30 birds to just a single breeding pair. The dramatic decline has set alarm bells ringing among conservationists, who point out that there are now more of these graceful predators living in England’s cities than across a vast swathe of the North stretching from the Peak District to the Yorkshire Moors and the Pennines.

The manumea, Samoa's national bird, is feared near extinction after a 10-day survey of the Savai’i uplands

The manumea bird (Didunculus strigirostris), which is endemic to Samoa and its national bird, is feared near extinction after a 10-day survey of the Savai’i uplands by a group of scientists resulted in just one sighting. An ornithologist, Rebecca Stirnemann, says she was hoping the manumea, a close relative of the dodo, would be abundant there - with the largely untouched cloud forest acting as a last refuge for the endangered species. But she says the manumea population is much smaller than what was anticipated. She says because of a lack of research as to what could be causing the population’s rapid decline, it is hard to know what can be done. “The manumea, we still know very little about. In fact we don’t even know if the nests are on the ground or high up a tree. So we have no biological information on their breeding, which makes it quite difficult to say well what’s eating it, why are we not seeing any chicks, why are numbers declining? Is it because there’s no food, there’s been a lot of habitat loss, but then it could be invasive species.” Rebecca Stirnemann says they are now doing a survey to find out how many manumea are left in Samoa by targeting areas where local people have reported seeing them.

For the first time since the 1960s, hen harriers have failed to nest successfully in England

Just two pairs attempted to nest this year in England, but both failed. At one of these sites the RSPB was working with the landowner to ensure the nest was protected. Sadly, the eggs never hatched. No new hen harriers this season means that the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is one the brink of extinction in England. The news of the nest failure follows the publication in May of the State of Nature report which showed that 60 per cent of those wildlife species which are monitored are declining across the UK. In 2011, the Government published ‘Biodiversity 2020’ (the revised England Biodiversity Strategy). In this strategy the Government made a clear commitment that there should be no extinction of an English wild species at the hands of man. This mirrors an international commitment under the Convention of Biological Diversity. Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, added: “With no birds nesting successfully this year, the hen harrier is clearly on the brink of extinction in England. We are eager to hear proposals from DEFRA about how the hen harrier can be restored to its rightful place on the English uplands.”

The Hawaiian Creeper population plunged 63 percent from 2001 to 2007

A new study finds a dramatic decline in the already endangered Hawaiian Creeper (Oreomystis mana). Scientists at the University of Hawaii say the bird's population plunged 63 percent from 2001 to 2007. Part of the problem is that only about a quarter of the Creepers are female, and scientists say there are not enough females to keep the species thriving. The Creepers are found in the southern portion of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Hawaii.The Hawaii Creeper is an important insect predator, helping to control the bug population. There may be fewer than 1,000 left on the Big Island.

Conservationists all but admitting defeat in their bid to save the area's capercaillies, one of Loch Lomond's rarest bird species

EFFORTS to protect one of Loch Lomond's rarest bird species are set to fail - with conservationists all but admitting defeat in their bid to save the area's capercaillies. The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), a large woodland grouse, once thrived in the Trossachs and Argyle, however, across the country numbers have been in decline for the past 40 years. Recent efforts by conservationists to halt the birds' terminal decline around Loch Lomond have failed, with only a handful thought to be remaining in the area. In the 1970s as many as 20,000 capercaillies could be found in Scotland, however, it is thought there is now only around 1,000 left in the country with the few remaining around Loch Lomond growing increasingly isolated from the more stable populations found in the Cairngorms National Park. Alan Bell, natural heritage manager for Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, explained: "Despite all our shared efforts the simple fact is that no new birds are moving into the area to breed with the resident birds. "Although individual birds were spotted in 2012, we have seen no signs of breeding activity in the last two years. The islands are rich places for nature and the efforts to protect the important wildlife there will of course continue."

Der Zitronenzeisig (Carduelis citrinella) - ein regionales Aussterben bis 2020 ist sehr wahrscheinlich

Der kleine Finkenvogel ist vielen unbekannt und sein weltweites Verbreitungsgebiet ist auf einen kleinen Teil Europas beschränkt. Sein Vorkommen umfasst inselartig Teile der Mittel- und Hochgebirge von Süd- und Mitteleuropa. Neben den großen Beständen in den Pyrenäen und einigen spanischen Mittelgebirgen gibt es noch Vorkommen in Slowenien und den Alpen. Auch im Schwarzwald existieren kleinere Vorkommen. Auf etwa 250 000 bis 320 000 Brutpaare wird der europäische und damit weltweite Bestand geschätzt, wobei davon über 80 Prozent auf der iberischen Halbinsel brüten. Der deutsche Bestand umfasst nach der letzten Schätzung von 2005 3400 bis 5500 Brutpaare, wobei diese aktuell nahezu vollkommen in Bayern brüten. Der gesamte Bestand im Schwarzwald wird auf nur noch 64 bis 164 Paare geschätzt, wobei leider die Untergrenze eher realistisch ist. Dies ist ein Rückgang seit Ende der 1980er-Jahre von rund 650 bis 750 Brutpaaren und ein regionales Aussterben bis 2020 ist sehr wahrscheinlich.

Schweiz: Vögel der Roten Liste sind jetzt im dunkelroten Bereich

Für Vogelarten, die auf der Roten Liste stehen, verschlechtert sich die Situation weiterhin. Das zeigt der neue Swiss Bird Index SBI®, den die Vogelwarte Sempach für die Arten der Roten Liste erstellt hat. Im Gegenteil: Der anhaltende Rückgang dieser Arten lässt sogar befürchten, dass die Rote Liste bei einer Neubeurteilung noch länger werden könnte. „Von den untersuchten 40 Arten zeigen 23 einen negativen Trend“, erläutert Verena Keller von der Vogelwarte. Die Rote Liste bezeichnet alle Brutvögel, die Gefahr laufen, aus der Schweiz zu verschwinden. Rote Listen sind Warnsignale für den Zustand der Natur. 40% der rund 200 in der Schweiz brütende Vogelarten stehen auf der Roten Liste. Der Anteil der gefährdeten Arten ist im Kulturland und in den Feuchtgebieten deutlich höher als etwa im Wald oder in alpinen Lebensräumen. Die Probleme für die Vögel der Landwirtschafts- und der Feuchtgebiete sind also besonders akut. Insbesondere eine wildtierfreundliche Landwirtschaft könnte eine markante Besserung bringen.

Capercaillie population in southern Scotland may no longer be viable

There are fears that capercaillie populations in the southernmost part of their range are no longer viable despite intensive efforts to save them. A cluster of small populations of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in the Trossachs and Argyll have steadily declined over recent decades. The last of these populations, centred on some of the Loch Lomond islands, has now dwindled to the point where there are only a few birds left. The nearest strong population is now in the Cairngorms National Park well beyond the distance that capercaillie will travel to search for territory or a mate. This leaves any remaining birds on the islands isolated, with no realistic prospect of being joined by individuals from elsewhere. While some birds may still be spotted on the islands, they are very few in number and little or no breeding is taking place. Long-running efforts by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), RSPB Scotland and local landowners have not been able to halt this decline.

Kansas pheasant population near all-time lows

First, for the bad news. Last fall and winter Kansas pheasant hunters shot about 230,000 pheasants. That’s the lowest since about 154,000 in 1957, the first year harvest records were kept. A rare sight last season…a hunter with a rooster pheasant. Last season’s harvest was the lowest in about 55 years. Second, for the really bad news – this coming season could be worse in some areas, according to spring surveys. Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism upland bird biologist provided the harvest estimates. He also furnished the results of the agency’s annual spring pheasant counts. It’s an annual event where agency staff run prescribed rural routes, stopping at prescribed locations to listen for rooster pheasants crowing. “This is horrific compared to where we were just a few years ago,” said Pitman. “When you’re as low as we are this year, it means you’re pretty much going to have (very low populations) this fall, even with good production. We just don’t have many bird out there.”

Numbers of upland game birds decline

When Tim Davis moved to Marshall County 35 years ago, he would spend some of his free time hunting pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and quail (Coturnix coturnix). As time passed Davis’ bird hunting expeditions became less successful, and about 10 years ago he stopped hunting quail and pheasant because he could rarely even find them. “They used to just be plentiful and everywhere. You could drive down any county road and you’d see pheasant and quail 35 years ago,” he said. Nowadays, Davis sees one or two quail or pheasant in an entire summer. During summertime he hears quail that are living on his property on the edge of Waterville but he does not bother them. “I just choose not to hunt them because I don’t think there are many left,” he said.