The Nightingale in Britain: status, ecology and conservation needs

Published on 05 April 2012 in Main articles

Common Nightingale, by Chas Holt

Chas Holt, Chris Hewson and Rob Fuller

Abstract The Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos is currently on the UK’s Amber list of birds of conservation concern, but the recent population trend indicates that the species now warrants Red-list status. England lies at the edge of the Nightingale’s global distribution; national surveys and Atlases reveal a contraction in range towards the southeast counties, while favoured sites away from this core are becoming increasingly isolated. The population in England has been in decline since at least the mid 1960s, with an especially steep decline up to the late 1970s. In mainland Europe the recent pattern (post 1970s) is one of relative stability. Knowledge of habitat requirements and pressures facing Nightingales in England has developed considerably in the last decade. Reduced woodland management activity in recent decades, combined with effects of intensified browsing by increasing deer populations are considered to have caused deterioration of habitat quality in woodland. Understanding the species’ ecology outside the breeding season is now a key priority. A national census takes place in spring 2012 which will contribute to a suggested strategy for the conservation of the Nightingale in England, outlined here.

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