Wednesday 23 May 2018

Barn owls and eagles at risk as one in five birds faces extinction

Barn Owl.
Barn Owl.
A Corncrake
White-tailed sea eagle
Barn owl
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

ONE in five of our common bird species is now at risk of extinction, including the corncrake, barn owl and some species of eagle.

A report says that of 185 species assessed, 37 have been placed on the so-called 'red' list, meaning they are most in need of conservation, with another 90 on the 'amber' list, which means their status is also of concern.

And the numbers being added to the most endangered list has increased by 12 since the last review in 2007.

The report from BirdWatch Ireland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warns that the "long-term future" of some species is "uncertain" and that more monitoring needs to be undertaken.


Among the most at-risk are the barn owl, whose numbers have declined by 77pc in the past 25 years; the corncrake, where just 140 males are believed to be in the country; and the curlew, with just 140 breeding pairs left.

BirdWatch Ireland species policy officer Dr Sinead Cummins said the latest assessment showed the impact that intensive farming, changes in land use and turf-cutting were having on our wildlife.

"This is like a health check for birds. While some species have moved down the list, a significant number have moved up," she said.

"Widespread use of insecticides means there's less prey, and there's a lot of habitat changes in the last number of years with farmers burning and moving scrub.

"Very often, they are doing this to get their full entitlement from the European Union but the impact on birds is not taken into account."

The report also says that the impact of two successive freezing winters between 2009 and 2011 has resulted in a number of species becoming of significant concern.

Irish Independent

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