RSPB Hails ‘Remarkable’ Recovery of Threatened Cirl Bunting

One of the UK’s most endangered songbirds is no longer on the brink of extinction following a “remarkable” recovery, the RSPB has said.

The cirl bunting, a sparrow-sized bird predominantly found in Devon, has seen breeding numbers rise from just 118 pairs in 1989 to 1,078 pairs this year.

It had been threatened by changes to farming methods and hedge losses. The RSPB said the turnaround came after a 25-year project with farmers to boost the bird’s food supplies and habitats.

Within Devon the species is generally not encountered outside a broad coastal band from Plymouth to Exeter, apart from the edge of Dartmoor along the Teign Valley.

The cirl bunting is a Schedule 1 bird species, a species of principle importance (NERC, 2006) and a Devon Biodiversity Action Plan species.

With regard to proposed developments, cirl bunting surveys should be undertaken on sites with suitable habitat within 2 km of the known breeding range of cirl buntings. The surveys should be undertaken over an entire breeding or wintering season (or both, as appropriate to the habitat of the site in question) to follow the most recent edition of RSPB published methodology. Therefore, it is important to plan surveys as early as possible to avoid any potential delays with your development.

Breeding survey
A minimum of five survey visits between mid April and the end of August are required. At least two should be in mid April-May and two in June-August. At least one visit must be after mid-August.

Winter Survey
Cirl buntings will move up to 2 km to find favourable foraging habitats, mainly winter stubble. They can use several different sites throughout the winter. The site should be checked at least 4 times over the winter period (October-March) – two visits should be before Christmas and two after.

Richard Green Ecology Ltd can undertake cirl bunting surveys to inform your development proposals. Contact Us today to discuss your proposals and to determine whether a cirl bunting survey is required.