Birds: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Flick Drummond Flick Drummond Conservative, Meon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the size of the populations of (a) nightingales, (b) turtle doves and (c) corn buntings; what steps he plans to take to protect those bird populations.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Avian Population Estimates Panel (made-up of representatives from the main bird conservation organisations and Government conservation agencies) estimates that the breeding populations for the three species are as follows:


Population estimate (Number of breeding territories)


(a) Nightingale


(b) Turtle dove


(c) Corn bunting


Agri-environmental schemes, such as the current Countryside Stewardship scheme, are the principal mechanism for supporting farm land birds, including these three species. The schemes deliver significant areas of habitat in England by providing suitable nesting and foraging conditions.

In addition, nightingales are an interest feature of a number of woodland Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in England, most notably the Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill SSSI which supports a nationally significant breeding population.

The turtle dove is the focus of a joint Natural England-RSPB Species Recovery Programme project for over ten years which has involved developing novel land management solutions for the species.

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