Scotland’s woodland and farmland bird numbers have increased over the past two decades but, during this time, upland birds have faced decline

That is according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report published last week entitled, The Official Statistic for Terrestrial Breeding Birds

The latest results reveal varied trends for Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds, with woodland birds increasing by 67 per cent between 1994 and 2016, farmland birds increasing by 13 per cent, but upland birds decreasing by eight per cent.

Woodland specialists, such as great-spotted woodpecker and chiffchaff, have shown the largest increases. Great-spotted woodpeckers have expanded across Europe, possibly as a result of increased forests and woodlands becoming more connected.


For farmland species, goldfinches have continued to increase and are now a common sight in most gardens. Whitethroat, a small migratory warbler, has also bounced back from its historical lows associated with droughts in its Sahelian overwintering grounds in Africa.

Upland birds are the most concerning group, with declines for 10 of the 17 species. Among the largest declines are breeding waders, including curlew, golden plover and lapwing.  Major work is under way to help tackle these declines, including extensive peatland restoration and the Working for Waders project.

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