Distribution Britain 85 (150%) Ireland 0
Numbers breeding: Britain 300 Ireland 0
European status: 22,000 (0% in Britain and Ireland =9)
British population trend: increasing possibly 30% p.a.
How likely are you to record it? 27 squares (0.6%) Ranked 131
Few birds have teetered on the brink of extinction and then come back with such success. These birds were once (up to the 18th century) widespread but the population was persecuted and languished to the point where a single breeding female was successfully breeding in the 1930s in Central Wales. There followed a gradual increase and expansion on to better ground, probably helped by the arrival of new genes, and the breeding success has improved so that they are increasing faster. In spring 1999 228 pairs and 155 unpaired birds were recorded! Breeding success was poorer than usual but at least 165 young were reared. Introductions of Spanish birds to England and Swedish birds to Scotland from 1989, and then other areas, proved an outstanding success for the RSPB, EN and SNH. Further sites are now involved and 116 pairs nested producing about 200 young in 1999. Increases of 30% per year are now logged with the new birds settling close to the release sites. Outlook brilliant: possibly 2,500 pairs by 2010 if illegal (and accidental) poisoning is curbed.
Davis, P.E. 1993 British Birds: 86, 295-299.
Dennis, R. H. et al. 1997 British Birds: 90, 123-138.
The following Bird On! picture is available:
Red Kite (35mm Colour Slide by Roger Tidman)
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead