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Britain’s Only Unique Bird Faces Climate Extinction

The Scottish crossbill, the only bird found exclusively in Britain, is facing extinction by 2100 owing to climate change according to a new report.

Published by Stop Climate Chaos coalition members, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), in conjunction with Durham and Cambridge universities, ‘A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds’ maps out the potential changes in the distribution of the continent’s nesting birds using a model temperature rise of 3C.

The report shows that for the average bird species the potential distribution by the end of this century will shift nearly 342 miles north east, which is equivalent to the distance from Plymouth to Newcastle.

This shift would be catastrophic to the Scottish crossbill. If pushed towards Scandinavia, the species would lose out to other types of crossbill - while a westward migration to Iceland would be doomed owing to the island’s lack of Scots pine trees, upon which the bird depends.

“Anything above an average of 2C risks catastrophic impacts,” said the suitably named Mark Avery, conservation director of the RSPB. “We must help wildlife to become resilient to the worst impacts.

"These results show us that conservation is going to become increasingly challenging over the next 90 years and that we will need to do far more than we have achieved so far if we are to share our planet with species we have done for thousands of years," he continued.

Although the Scottish crossbill, along with seven other types of bird, has been flagged up as endangered, warmer temperatures in Britain are likely to cause an influx of feathered newcomers. Southerly species such as the purple heron, scops owl, serin and hoopoe are among 19 types of bird forecast to arrive in Britain to breed.

“To enable these potential new colonists to gain a foothold we must prepare for their arrival by giving them the habitat they need and the freedom from persecution they deserve,” added Dr Avery.

Click here for RSPB website >>

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published: 13:20 - 15 January 2008