Birds are nature’s barometer
The importance of wild birds as barometers of the health of the countryside has long been recognised. In the 1960s, it was the collapse of the peregrine population and the discovery of huge numbers of dead songbirds that alerted people to the dangers of the persistent organochlorine pesticides that were then widely used as seed dressings. As a result these pesticides were eventually withdrawn.
Today, our wild birds and animals are regarded as one of the important indications of the quality of life. We have come to realise that fields without skylarks, hedges without linnets and barns without swallows reflect poorly on the health of the countryside, and the quality of life of the people who live there.
Today both conservation bodies and the Government itself have come to use the diversity and abundance of certain species of wild birds and animals as indicators of the quality of life. Several are BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species, and targets have been set for the restoration of their numbers. BAP birds include the song thrush, skylark, spotted flycatcher, linnet, bullfinch and reed bunting.