One of Britain’s most threatened farmland birds has reached a major milestone in its recovery from the brink of extinction, figures show.
A nationwide survey by the RSPB shows the UK population of the cirl bunting – a small, finch-like bird – has reached 1,078 pairs after numbering just 118 in 1989.
The RSPB said the dramatic rise is the result of a 25-year project recovery programme between the organisation, Natural England and local farmers in the south-west of England to help manage their land in order to provide year-round food supplies and habitat for the cirl bunting.
Under the initiative, farmers took up country stewardship schemes which provide financial incentives for making nature-friendly choices. These ranged from leaving crops to go to stubble after harvest and provide seed food during colder months to planting grass margins at the edge of fields to support habitats for insects and spiders that would act …