Fewer chirping birds means silenced countryside

November 1st, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 1 (ANI): An alarming report has revealed that the sound of chirping birds might soon be lost for ever among sounds in the countryside, as the populations of farmland birds have plummeted to their lowest levels for over 40 years in the UK.

According to a report in the Daily Express, breeding pairs of countryside birds are 52 per cent fewer than in 1966.

Between 1970 and 2006, the number of corn buntings declined by 89 per cent and turtle doves by 86 per cent.

The crisis, which particularly affects species such as skylarks, grey partridges and lapwings, is likely to get worse, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warned.

The decline, charted by the Department for the Environment, has occurred despite grants for farmers to work the land in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The figures do not include the removal earlier this year of fields set aside and left to run wild, which had provided safe havens for many birds.

The further drop in the numbers of some farmland birds is deeply troubling, said RSPB agricultural policy officer Gareth Morgan.

This is a credit crunch for birds. We know that the general intensification of farming, driven by the Common Agricultural Policy, has accounted for the majority of the decline in farmland birds, but with good conservation support now available for farmers, this years results are still dismaying, he added.

According to Morgans colleague, Grahame Madge, the decline was already changing the sound of rural spring when birds such as skylarks and turtle doves sing to attract mates.

The orchestra is definitely getting quieter. In some areas, the variety of birds is nowhere near as good as it was in 1970, he said.

Paul Temple, the vice-president of the National Farmers Union, cited factors like climate change, encroaching urbanisation and increased traffic as contributory factors for the decreasing bird numbers in the countryside. (ANI)

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