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How Climate Change Is Affecting The UK Bird Population


1st Jan 2015 Animals & Pets

How Climate Change Is Affecting The UK Bird Population

Due to the effects of climate change, new species of birds are coming to the UK. A recent study by the RSPB and Durham University has found that European birds have been migrating further north by an average of 300 miles. While fewer birds, such as the tufted duck, are returning for the winter months, there has been an increase in other species as they seek a new holiday home or a quiet stop-off!

Look out for some new arrivals

It's thought that in the UK, we will gain many more species than we’ll lose through climate change - a 3°C change won’t affect the migrations of the ‘big 10’ on the RSPB’s ‘Garden Watch List’, so birds such as robins, blackbirds, blue tits and greenfinches will still be regular visitors to our gardens. Climate change has been affecting domestic birds though - the Dartford warbler, a species that was literally down to just a couple of pairs in the UK in the 1960s, has been spreading further north from it's traditional home in south-east England. Other birds such as green woodpeckers and nuthatches have already been regular visitors to the country, but have now started to spread further north, with some even venturing as far as northern England.


European Serin


An interesting development in recent years has been the migration of European serins who generally live and breed in continental Europe (as far east as Turkey) have been visiting south-east England.


Scops Owl


Scops owls have also been regular visitors, mostly in the south of England. It’s worth nothing that over the next 50 years or so, these visitors will eventually start to settle in the UK as they continue to breed and acclimatise to the conditions. 


Bee Eater


Last year, European bee eater birds made national news as it was revealed that these birds, mainly found in Asia, Africa and southern Europe, have started to breed on the Isle of Wight.




Ibises, found mostly in the South of France, have been found to be breeding on lakes in the UK in recent years. These birds have long dark beaks, a white neck and a dark body - with the 'underpart' being white.


Just Passing Through


Other birds are, for the moment, just passing through on their migration, using the UK as a brief pitstop. The exotic-looking hoopoe – a striking black-and-white-winged bird, the size of a mistle thrush - regularly passes England’s south coast and, although it doesn’t breed here, up to 100 of them can turn up during the spring. Other, more easy-to-spot birds are black terns, which are generally seen over lakes and green sandpapers, which looks like a large housemartin in flight and is dark on its upperpart and white on its underpart.

As climate change continues, there’s nothing to suggest that these birds won’t continue to breed northwards during the next decade and spotting them will become a regular occurrence throughout the country.