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Back In the Air – 5 British Birds Back from the Brink

Throughout the centuries, humans have had a substantial effect on the population of our British birds. This is a reason many species have become extinct in the UK, and why various schemes have been put in place to bring them back from the brink. Now, many of our favourite British birds are once again thriving. Here are some of our most popular ones:

The Red Kite

The Red Kite is famous for it’s angled wings, deeply forked tail and reddish brown body. But at one time, this magnificently graceful bird of prey was just confined to Wales. Through one of the world’s longest running protection programmes, it has now since been successfully introduced into to Scotland and England.

The RSPB now believes there are over 1,600 breeding pairs in the UK, making this one of the most successful and popular stories.


We all know these fish eating raptors for dramatically driving into the water to catch their prey. But what you might not know is they were extinct just 100 years ago. These birds have since returned in numbers, starting in Scotland in 1954. After a careful protection of nest sites, numbers have gradually increased. This is a been perfect example that shows by reducing damaging activities, bird species can naturally recolonise areas.

Marsh Harrier

The large silhouette above the reed beds is usually that of a Marsh Harrier. But in 1971, there was only one pair at Minsmere, due to the persecution of their eggs and wetland drainage. It has since made a slow and steady recovery, with nearly 400 breeding pairs in the UK!  This has largely been down to a reduction of toxic pesticides, reduced drainage, and the appropriate protection of their habitat.


The Goshawk was already a rare and oppressed species before they became extinct in the 19th century; this was again largely due to egg collectors. However, thanks to many deliberate reintroductions, Goshawks reappeared in the 1960’s. The birds are secretive in nature, so it’s difficult to monitor their exact numbers, but the population has definitely grown steadily over the last 60 years

Great Bustard

This is one of world’s heaviest flying creatures, but in 1832 the magnificent bird became nationally extinct when the last remaining one was shot. Thanks to the wonderful work from  the Great Bustard Group 12 years ago, the iconic species came home to the Wiltshire landscape. In 2007, the project achieved great progress with females laying eggs again for the first time, then later in 2009, when the males reached maturity. This was followed by the wonderful news that the first chicks had hatched after 175 years!

Doing your Bit For the Birds

With winter on it’s away, these conditions can be punishing on our garden birds. Our friends at Kennedy Wild Bird Food recommend keeping your garden full of tasty treats, especially fat balls and bird seed. This will ensure that your feathered friends thrive this winter, avoiding similar fates as the birds that have luckily bounced back.


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