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Photo credit: Richard Bartz

Puffins and turtle doves among UK bird species now at risk of extinction

Four new U.K. species of bird are now at a risk of extinction; Atlantic puffins, European turtle doves, Slavonian grebes and pochards have recently been added to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for birds. This comes as devastating news for conservationists as it means that the number of U.K. species on the critical list has doubled to eight.

Puffins are vulnerable to pollution and declining food sources, ecologists say. The Joint Nature Committee reports that this includes a recent decline in sand eels, one of the puffin’s main source of prey, and the bird’s overall vulnerability to oil spills.

Meanwhile, an unexplained decline in turtle dove numbers across Europe of more than 30 percent in the past 16 years have made the breed susceptible to extinction. Conservationists believe that it is linked to an apparent lack of breeding pairs. A similar case has been made for the decline of Slavonian grebes in the U.K.; there has been a reduction in successful breeding pairs, the cause of which is still unknown.

Finally, hunting and habitat destruction are thought to be the reason behind the reduction of pochard populations.

Additionally, 14 other U.K. species are considered to be “near threatened.”

“The global wave of extinction is now lapping at our shores,” mused Martin Harper, a conservation director with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. “The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African elephant and lion, and being more endangered than the humpback whale.”

The BBC published the complete list of the critically endangered U.K. bird species, and they are as follows: European turtle dove, Slavonian grebe, Pochard, Atlantic puffin, Balearic shearwater, Aquatic warbler, Long-tailed duck, and the Velvet scoter.

About Cindy Pereira

Cindy Pereira
Cindy Pereira is a recent graduate of the Professional Writing program formerly offered at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada. When she isn't dishing out the news, she can be found scrawling poetry, watching films, and drinking copious amounts of tea.