Return of the cranes hits a record highFebruary 2, 2021
Return of the cranes hits a record high: Britain’s tallest birds come back from ‘extinction’ after reintroduction programme
- Cranes have come back from extinction in the UK after vanishing in 1600s
- In 1979 a few returned to Norfolk and numbers have grown over the years
- Latest survey shows a record high of 64 breeding pairs across the country
Cranes have come back from extinction in the UK to reach a record high of 64 pairs.
The country’s tallest bird, standing 4ft high, vanished in the 1600s due to hunting and the draining of its wetland habitats.
But in 1979 a few returned to Norfolk and numbers have grown over the years with the restoration of peatlands and a reintroduction programme.
Cranes have come back from extinction in the UK to reach a record high of 64 pairs
Breeding pairs are central in population records and the latest survey shows 64 across the country last year, which produced 23 chicks.
Including cranes not in pairs, the total population is thought to be more than 200 birds.
The figures come from the Great Crane Project, which includes the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
More than half of the cranes which have fledged in the UK since 1980 have fledged since 2015, making the last five years very productive for the birds, they said.
At least 85 per cent of the breeding population are found on protected nature reserves, the survey shows.
Breeding pairs are central in population records and the latest survey shows 64 across the country last year, which produced 23 chicks
Damon Bridge, chairman of the UK Crane Working Group said: ‘The return of cranes to the British landscape shows just how resilient nature can be when given the chance.
‘If we want to see this success continue then these sites that cranes use and need must get adequate protection.’
Andrew Stanbury, RSPB conservation scientist, added: ‘If we want to see this amazing achievement repeated across the UK, governments must take action to designate the most important sites for this iconic species as part of the UK’s protected area network.’
Conservationists want to see strong protection for wetland habitats where cranes make their home, and which support a wide range of other wildlife, as well as providing protection from floods and storms and storing carbon.
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