Bird life in Wales is under threat and needs your protection from resource scarcity, deforestation and heavy industrial practices

Bird Habitats in Wales
Wales contains some of the UK's most important habitats for several key bird species and must be protected. RSPB Wales and the British Trust for Ornithology work hard to protect and promote our native birds but their habitats face growing threats meaning the survival of key species depends upon people taking action to stand up for bird rights.

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Some habitats favoured by seabird colonies, such as Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, have undergone little change for thousands of years.

The food shortages that have devastated tern, auk and kittiwake colonies on North Sea coasts so far haven't affected the Welsh colonies, making the seacliffs on the North and West Wales coast crucial to the UK survival of these seabirds. The Pembrokeshire islands hold large numbers of Manx shearwaters, storm-petrels, guillemots and razorbills, and include Grassholm with its 39,000 gannets that make it the third largest colony on the planet.  

Other areas of Wales, like the lowland valleys, upland peaks and wide estuaries that border England to the east have been modified by farming, heavy industry and extraction of natural resources. The large expanses of moorland and woodland in Wales, with low levels of human habitation and plenty of small mammals, are the chosen habitat of most of the UK's raptor species; Wales is home to over 600 pairs of Red Kites, 43 Hen Harrier pairs, and other important raptor species such as the Goshawk, Marlin and Ospreys. These habitats are under threat from unsustainable forestry practices; at 14% of land surface Wales is now the most afforested country in the UK.
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Welsh estuaries (the Dee, the Severn and the Dyfi) host thousands of oystercatchers, knot, bar-tailed godwits, redshanks, curlews and dunlins - these species depend on the vast acres of rich mud that is uncovered by the tide twice each day. The saltmarsh associated with these estuaries also are important for white-fronted geese (particularly Greenland race birds on the Dyfi), wigeons, teals and shovelers. Land reclamation and industrial development has altered several of these estuaries during the last 150 years, though the threat of tidal barrages poses a new risk for these intertidal species.

How you can protect these habitats and species

Build a nest box:
Our birds are struggling, even once common ones such as sparrows. One of the reasons is fewer places to nest. Even if you don't have a garden you're likely to have space to put up a nest box. You'll be rewarded by seeing all the activity and know you did this, giving a bird family a home.

5 ways to help nesting birds

Position nestboxes under the roof eaves, away from any windows and out of the direct sun, wind and rain. Visit Swift Conservation  and RSPB for more information on specific nestboxes for Swifts and House martins.

Feed the birds:
Feeding the birds is very rewarding and helps them to survive the winter and feed their young in the summer. Different birds like different foods, find more here.

Even a small garden can provide a selection of natural food sources for birds all year round. From autumn onwards, this is particularly important, as temperatures start to drop and food becomes scarce. Gardeners World and Country File have comprehensive lists of plants to attract birds to, and feed them from, your green space.

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Protecting Habitats:
Rough grassland is a perfect habitat for Barn Owls because it provides a lot more cover (there's no litter-layer in a hay meadow). Rough grassland is also much better for insects and insectivorous birds than a hay meadow. Although rough grassland may be less flowery than a really good hay meadow, the wild flowers of rough grassland, the grasses, and the butterflies they support are beautiful. Find out how much good habitat Barn Owls need.


For more ways to get involved check out some of our favourite organisations and projects: