Cuckoo becomes one of UK's most threatened birds

Thu May 28, 2009 5:39am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The cuckoo, traditional harbinger of Spring, has become one of Britain's most threatened birds, joining a "red list" of the 52 most vulnerable species.

Numbers of the bird famous for laying its eggs in others' nests are down almost 40 percent in 15 years.

Others on the danger list, which now accounts for 21 percent of all Britain's bird species, include the lapwing, yellow wagtail, the house sparrow and the starling.

The 2009 list was published on Thursday by the RSPB charity on behalf of a range of conservation bodies like the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology. The last survey was compiled in 2002.

The RSPB said the continued decline of widespread farmland and woodland birds is a theme which has developed since then.

Lapwing, a formerly widespread wading bird, and the hawfinch, a woodland bird largely confined to England, have both joined the red list in the latest assessment.

"An increasing number of charismatic, widespread and familiar birds are joining the list of those species most in need of help; this is scandalous," said Mark Avery, the RSPB's Conservation Director.

"When the RSPB was formed 120 years ago, few would have been concerned about the cuckoo, lapwing, starling or house sparrow.

"Now these birds are some of our greatest conservation priorities. Most shocking is the more recently observed and drastic decline of summer-visiting birds, typified by the cuckoo."   Continued...