While there are multiple definitions of what makes something valuable, there’s no denying the fact that certain wild animals are viewed more fondly by the public than others. For example, there are approximately 600 wild species of bird found throughout Great Britain, each with their own unique evolutionary traits and survival skills. Many people pick out certain birds as being their favourites without even thinking about it, but have you ever stopped to wonder why?
To celebrate Bird Week on Love Nature, we’ve scoped out some of the most popular birds found around Britain and attempted to find out why some species are viewed as particularly valuable. From adorable blue tits to almighty eagles, these might just be the most valuable birds in Britain.
Britain’s rarest bird: Hen harrier
Sometimes known as the ‘sky dancer’ for its impressive aerial displays, hen harriers are dangerously close to extinction in Britain. The cause of their disappearance is widely speculated, although there are fears that hunters and gamekeepers sometimes poison the birds in order to safeguard grouses that the harriers feed on.
Britain’s most iconic bird: Robin
The robin was officially voted the National Bird of Britain in June 2015, winning 34% of votes and easily beating the second and third place contenders, barn owls and blackbirds. This birds’ popularity could be down to its distinctive and lovable look—a plump body, orange-red breast and chirpy disposition that Brits can’t seem to get enough of.
Britain’s most sought-after seabird: Puffin
Many bird watchers long to see puffins in the wild; their affable, clown-like appearance and bright beaks make them a favourite among wildlife enthusiasts worldwide. The UK is lucky enough to have over 580,000 breeding pairs of puffins, which can be seen in places such as Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire and on the Farne Islands in Northumberland.
Britain’s largest bird: White-tailed eagle
Size isn’t everything, but if it was then the white-tailed eagle would certainly be Britain’s most valuable bird. These mighty birds of prey have an impressive wing-span of two metres, leading some twitchers to jokingly refer to them as ‘flying barn doors’. Although UK populations went extinct in the early 20th century, the birds have made an impressive comeback in Scotland since being reintroduced there.
Britain’s cutest bird: Blue tit
A common sight in British gardens, it’s nigh on impossible not to be won over by the blue tit’s lovable looks. Despite only being named after one colour, these small but perfectly formed creatures are some of the most vibrant British birds; their blue, yellow, green and white feathers make them instantly recognisable. Younger birds can be distinguished from their yellow cheeks, which turn white as they reach maturity.
Britain’s most resilient bird: Red kite
Red kites have made an amazing comeback since being reintroduced in England and Scotland, thanks largely to one of the world’s longest running protection programmes. Approximately 1600 red kite pairs can now be found across the UK. These large predators can be easily recognised thanks to their reddish-brown bodies and forked tails.
Britain’s most rapidly declining bird: Turtle dove
The bird made famous by ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ is disappearing from Britain at an alarming rate: populations of turtle doves declined by 97% in the period between 1970 and 2013. Like other farmland birds such as grey partridges, skylarks and starlings, they have been seriously affected by intensive farming and land development in their habitats. Do your bit for these animals by choosing to buy ‘Fair to Nature’ products, which are produced on farms where wildlife is protected.
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