Willow tit likely to be extinct in London

A recent publication reveals mixed fortunes for the capital’s avian population.

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The willow tit could be extinct in London © John Hawkins

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The willow tit is now believed to be extinct in London, according to The London Bird Atlas.

Turtle dove, house martin and tree sparrow are all in trouble in the city, whereas populations of little egret, peregrine falcon, Cetti’s warbler and raven are increasing.

“The Atlas is the culmination of many hours of voluntary work by bird watchers and members of the London Bird Club, the British Trust for Ornithology and other organisations,” says lead author Ian Woodward.

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The population of Cetti’s warbler is increasing in London © Andrew Moon

Produced by London Bird Club (part of the London Natural History Society), the most recent atlas brings together data from the period between 2008–2013.

Birds were recorded within a 20-mile radius of St Paul’s Cathedral, including Greater London, and parts of surrounding counties.

“During field work for the London Bird Atlas almost two hundred species of birds were recorded in the London area,” says co-author Richard Arnold. “For a largely urban area, this is still an impressive tally despite the sad decline of some once common species, like the tree sparrow.”

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