While many species are declining, there have been some success stories. The red kite, for instance, has become a common sight across the UK and Europe as a result of protections brought in to preserve it. This has seen the species downgraded from the category of Near Threatened to Least Concern.
Populations of the Azores bullfinch, meanwhile, have stabilized after its range became a protected area and work was undertaken to restore the laurel forest it relies on. It is now classed as Vulnerable instead of Endangered.
Other species have seen changes to their classification based on new information. The kingfisher is now of Least Concern after previously being Vulnerable as better information on its populations has been gathered. Alex says changes like these reflect the difficulty of studying population size.
‘For all of their visibility, birds are quite hard to count,’ he says. ‘It can be quite challenging. Every assessment of birds captures the best information we have at the time and we cautiously actly with that.
‘There are still some gaps in our knowledge for some species which we don’t have good, reliable data. I think we need increased, or at least sustained, cooperation between European countries on this because birds don’t stop at borders.
‘It’s our shared natural heritage that we’re looking at here, and we need to look after it.’
This is a view shared by those who put the report together, who have called on European governments to work together to protect birds across the continent.
Claire Rutherford, species conservation officer at BirdLife Europe, says, ‘We can improve the plight of Europe’s birds. Bird populations in Europe are dropping mainly because they are losing their habitats, and there are solutions to that.
‘Large-scale restoration work alongside the protection of the few natural habitats left in Europe, will not only help birds survive, but will help humanity survive.’