News of Our Group, and Relevant News for Our Members

Thursday 5 October 2017

Good News about British Birds


Buzzard in flight

Eighteen UK Bird Longevity Records Broken, Twenty-one UK Bird Species Double in Population.

The autumn 2017 issue of the British Trust for Ornithology’s BTO News reports that recent results of bird-ringing data has uncovered some remarkably old British birds.

Almost twenty longevity records have been broken. The stand-outs being a 37 year old puffin, a 30 year old buzzard and a 23 year old tawny owl. The puffin was already a breeding adult when first ringed so must be at least 42 years of age.

Other notables are a 21 year old peregrine, 15 year old barn owl, 13 year old little owl, 10 year old nuthatch and a 5 year old goldcrest.

The other records broken in 2016 are little egret 10 years, little ringed plover 17 years, green sandpiper 12 years, great spotted woodpecker 11 years, dipper 8 years, ring ouzel 8 years, whinchat 5 years, twite 6 years, lesser redpoll 6 years, goldfinch 10 years.

To see the full details of these records and the records that were not broken, go to

Longevity records for Britain & Ireland in 2016

Sadly, old individuals will not necessarily reverse the long term decline in many bird populations as these old timers are the exception to the rule. They have lived considerably longer than the average lifespan of their species.

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The BTO have also detailed the 21 UK breeding species that have doubled (or more) their populations over the last 20-47 years. Many on the list are unsurprising, such as the Canada goose, collared dove and buzzard. Others are largely ignored by the bird watching community - mute swan, mallard, coot, stock dove, woodpigeon, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow and great tit.

Major increases since 1967 include Buzzard x7, greylag goose x8, great spotted woodpecker x5, collared dove x10 and blackcap x4.

For full details, including population graphs and status summaries, follow the links in this extract from the BTO BirdTrends 2016 report.

Positive changes