Concern for future of red-listed puffins, kestrels and swifts

Puffins, swifts and kestrels are among 23 birds that have been moved on to the Red list – relating to species of highest conservation concern – across the island of Ireland, according to a new study.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:00 am
Puffins are a familiar sight on Rathlin Island

The study’s stark findings show that a quarter of bird species on the island are now Red-listed.

There has been a further “catastrophic decline” in wading birds, with six more species (including snipe) joining the red list.

Lapwings are another wading bird that has suffered declines.

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Gillian Gilbert, RSPB NI principal conservation scientist, said: “It’s sad to see swifts and kestrels, among other species, facing such declines, while anyone who has visited the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will know and love the puffins, kittiwakes and razorbills on the sea stacks and should rightly be concerned that they are now on the Red list.

“Because these seabirds are doing poorly across Europe and indeed across the world, this makes the birds we have across the island of Ireland crucially important and we need to do everything we can to protect them.

“Natural ecosystems globally face a myriad of pressures including climate change, habitat loss and pollution, but this report shows how nature here is in trouble.

“Therefore, support for our work and our campaigns calling for targets in law to revive our world are more important than ever.”

Lesley Lewis of BirdWatch Ireland added: “We really are at a tipping point for our birds and we need to act now. We need a combined multilateral approach from all sectors including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with a strong lead from governments.

“We know from many locally-led projects that habitat protection, restoration and creation can make huge differences, so there is hope that the current trends can be reversed; if not, what will the next assessment in five years show?”