Country Life

Silence of the birds

SCHACK, schack, schak!’ ‘Si-si-sisi-suu!’ ‘Tett-ett-ett!’ Such imperious calls—here those of the fieldfare, yellowhammer and meadow pipit—are among the vital signs that there’s life on Earth. Garden, woodland and farmland birds, members of the passerine family, are the natural environment’s canaries in the mine, but their melodies are being heard less and less frequently. It’s a silence that speaks volumes about the deteriorating state of British biodiversity.

SongBird Survival (SBS), a small, but valiant charity started by landowners in 2001 with the strapline ‘Saving songbirds with science’, is trying, through research, education and practical measures, to halt the decline of this country’s songbirds, which stands at about 56% since 1970.

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