Kestrel now on endangered birds list


The kestrel — once Ireland’s most common bird of prey — is now on the danger list, according to a new survey.

The number of swifts, skylarks and mistle thrushes are also dramatically dwindling every year, said the ten-year BirdWatch Ireland research.

“These birds have been affected by intensive agricultural practices and the switch from tillage to pasture in some areas,” said co-ordinator Dick Coombes.

“The increased use of pesticides and fertilisers and other issues like climate change have also played a role.”

The kestrel, which mostly feeds on mice and small birds, is now declining by 7-8 per cent every year.

It is one of 11 species that are amber-listed on BirdWatch Ireland’s ‘traffic lights’ system of conservation concern.

The last Irish countryside bird to go completely extinct was the corn bunting species in the 1980s.

The Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is a joint project of BirdWatch Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service which was carried out with hundreds of volunteers.

The study recorded a total of 145 species, including 18 which are of conservation concern in Ireland.

“This is the first time we have had a decade’s worth of breeding bird data for Ireland, and this is already being used for developing Government policy on conservation,” said Mr Coombes.

The survey revealed that wrens, robins, blackbirds and chaffinches are the most widespread species and occur in 90 per cent of areas.

Rooks, starlings and wrens have the biggest populations due to their versatility of habitat.

Species remaining most stable or even increasing include pigeons, warblers, tits and finches.