(Above) under threat: the conservation status of the common eider has changed from Vulnerable to Endangered due to factors including a shortage of food. © Shutterstock.com/Christoph Mischke


ONE FIFTH OF bird species in Europe are now threatened with extinction, finds a new report by Birdlife International.
The “European Red List of Birds 2021” reviews and evaluates the regional extinction risk of 544 bird species in more than 50 countries and territories in Europe.

It found that one out of five bird species in Europe is classified as Threatened or Near Threatened by extinction and one in three bird species declined over the past few decades.

Anna Staneva, interim head of conservation at BirdLife Europe, said: “The Red List is a crucial resource for everyone working to stop the biodiversity and climate crises, because where birds are in trouble, nature is in trouble.”

The report follows the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria and categorises each species from “Least Concern” to “Extinct”.

The most threatened and fastest declining groups of birds in Europe are seabirds, wildfowl, waders and raptors.

Species such as common snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and common eider (Somateria mollissima) have moved to a higher conservation classification due to a combination of factors affecting their population numbers, including disease, food shortages and habitat loss.

Marine habitats, farmlands, wetlands and grasslands are the habitats with the most threatened and/or declining species.

It’s not all bad news, however. The conservation status of the red kite (Milvus milvus) has changed from Near Threatened to Least Concern, while the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) is now classified as Vulnerable rather than Endangered. Both success stories are the result of targeted conservation efforts.

“One take-away message from this Red List is that we can improve the plight of Europe’s birds,” added Claire Rutherford, species conservation officer at BirdLife Europe.

“Bird populations in Europe are dropping mainly because they are losing their habitats, and there are solutions to that. Large-scale restoration work alongside the protection of the few natural habitats left in Europe, will not only help birds survive, but will help humanity survive.”

For more information and to read the full report, visit: www.birdlife.org

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