Conserving Native Birds

Group of puffins sitting and flying in flowers on cliffside in FairIsle

ZSL’s UK & European Programme looks to protect rare and threatened native birds and to improve the health of their populations. Many of the UK’s species have been in decline, and are in need of conservation attention.  ZSL conservationists carry out survey work with puffins off the coast of Ireland and have been working with Natural England in the breeding and reintroduction of corncrakes. We also monitor the health of garden birds, along with a number of current and past projects. 

Puffin Tagging

The puffin is one of the UK’s most abundant seabirds, but its populations have been in decline recently. ZSL conservationists are carrying out work with geo-locator tags and camera traps in Skellig, West Kerry, Ireland, to get some insight into how puffin populations are faring and what might be causing these declines.

Corncrake Breeding

The corncrake is the only globally threatened bird to breed regularly in the UK, and started to disappear from the English countryside more than a century ago. Since 2000, ZSL has played a key role in the breeding of corncrakes to be released into RSPB reserves. This has been a highly successful project so far, contributing to the downgrading of the corncrakes IUCN conservation status to Least Concern.

Garden Wildlife Health

ZSL scientists are studying the effects of supplementary feeding on garden bird health through the Garden Wildlife Health project. Garden birds are commonly affected by outbreaks of disease, so we also carry out research to better understand and limit the impact of these outbreaks. 

Find out more about the Garden Wildlife Health project

Other bird projects

ZSL has worked to encourage species such as swifts on its own sites at ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, and monitored bird species on these sites.

ZSL has also been involved in research into House Sparrow declines [Link] and conserving and reintroducing Red Kites.

Project information

Key species

  • Atlantic puffin
  • Corncrake
  • Swifts
  • House sparrow

People involved

  • Stephen Mowat is ZSL’s conservationist working with Atlantic puffins.
  • Jamie Graham runs the corncrake conservation and breeding project. 

Partners and funding

  • ZSL is working with University College Cork to monitor puffins.
  • ZSL worked with RSPB and Natural England on corncrake breeding and reintroduction.