Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Willow Tit

Poecile montanus

Population declined by
%
between 1970 and 2012
Territories can be
hectares in size
In 2015 recorded
territories in the project area

What is a Willow Tit?

Small, stocky and quietly coloured, this is the UK’s most threatened resident bird. We’ve lost 94% of them since the 1970s, and they are now extinct in most of their former haunts in the south and south-east of England.

They spend the whole year in much the same area, favouring damp scrub or young woods and eat mainly insects. They will also eat berries and seeds in winter. Remarkably, they excavate their own nest holes every year, often using standing stumps of soft rotting deadwood. As a result, they are unlikely to use traditional nest-boxes.

Why are they in trouble?

As these birds are so sedentary, they are very vulnerable to loss and fragmentation of habitat. They like old industrial areas which generate scrub and young woodland, but these are often considered wasteland, and not worthy of conservation effort. Even if these areas are not developed, this will eventually turn to mature woodland if not managed, and become unsuitable for Willow Tits. The Dearne Valley, the focus of this project, is a largely post-industrial landscape. There is also a surviving population in Wigan Flashes in the north-west, in a similar area of reclaimed coalfield.

How we will help the Willow Tit

This Back from the Brink project, led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, will help Willow Tits in the Dearne Valley by ensuring there is good habitat for them, and improving linkage between patches. Annual surveys will allow us to monitor the impact of our work on habitats. We need to understand better what sorts of areas this bird likes best, and how much of it they need to thrive. We’ll find out more about this species by using state of the art technology, especially to find out what prevents them spreading through the landscape, but also to learn more about what they need.

We’ll work on a landscape-scale with professional biologists, local communities and others to help this vulnerable bird.

What we’re aiming for

By the end of the project, we aim to have improved the conservation status of the Willow Tit in the Dearne valley, by learning more about their needs, and by building on existing, good partnerships to safeguard their future. What we discover here about improving and expanding quality habitat will benefit the species elsewhere, too.

How to get involved

Can you help us with surveys, or with providing a place for Willow Tits to live? Find out more at our talks, walks and events.

You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.

Project timeline

Septmeber-October 2017

Mapping of target sites and opportunities for habitat improvements

November 2017

First volunteer session in practical habitat management

December 2017

First nest boxes installed

February 2018

First volunteers trained in willow tit surveys

Spring 2021

Management plan completed for all sites along with a landscape management plan

Project contact

Pete Wall

Project Manager
pete.wall@ywt.org.uk
07899 676597

 

Sophie Pinder

Project Officer
sophie.pinder@ywt.org.uk
07896 674808

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Bringing them Back From The Brink

We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

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