We hope that the population of endangered corncrakes in Scotland will continue to grow and they can be saved from extinction.
The quantity of corncrakes singing their unusual summer songs in Scotland has risen for the first time in five years, providing optimism that this elusive bird can be rescued from extinction in Britain.
The number of male individuals contacted rose to 870 during the summer, which is an increase from the lowest count of 828 in 2022 and the highest count since the summer of 2019.
Conservationists are optimistic that this marks a significant shift for the red-listed bird, as its continuous decline was temporarily stopped earlier this century. In 2014, the population of this species on the islands of north-west Scotland reached 1,289 males, but has since drastically decreased once again.
The removal of pastures and scrubby vegetation has greatly reduced the number of migratory birds, known as Crex crex, that used to make repetitive mechanical calls at night, keeping rural communities awake.
The RSPB Scotland’s Corncrake Calling partnership project has taken extreme measures to protect the bird by enhancing the amount and caliber of corncrake habitat. This includes establishing pathways of irises, nettles, and cow parsley to provide hiding spots for the birds from predators.
The project has collaborated with farmers and crofters to promote delaying hay-cutting and mowing in order to protect ground-nesting bird chicks from harm.
According to Anne McCall, the director of RSPB Scotland, the 870 male corncrakes that were heard calling bring a glimmer of hope for a positive change. She expressed that these findings are a major milestone in the attempts to preserve corncrakes in Scotland and are a testament to the tremendous joint endeavor of farmers, crofters, and nearby communities through the Corncrake Calling initiative. She also stated that this demonstrates how focusing on creating and maintaining suitable habitats and managing land can produce positive outcomes for corncrakes.
Conservation work supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund has resulted in a noticeable rise in the number of male animals heard on the islands of Coll, Lewis, and Tiree. In 2023, Coll’s male calls have increased from 47 to 68, Lewis from 74 to 88, and Tiree from 273 to 293.