South Scotland

Struggling tree sparrow gets water works aid

Tree sparrow Image copyright Getty Images

Bird boxes have been put in place at water treatment works in south west Scotland to boost tree sparrow numbers.

Scottish Water was approached by RSPB Scotland as its sites were ideal for the birds to breed.

The tree sparrow is on the red list of species of Birds of Conservation Concern meaning its status is considered "highly threatened".

Scottish Water said it hoped the bird boxes could "make a difference" to numbers in the area.

Although there have been signs of recovery in the UK, with numbers starting to rise since 1994, the current population estimate for tree sparrows is just 10% of what it was in the 1960s.

'Key corridors'

Boxes have been installed at sites in Annan, Dalbeattie, Dalscone, Dumfries, Lochmaben, Lockerbie, Thornhill and Troqueer to try to help boost numbers.

Julia Gallagher, RSPB conservation officer, said: "Our current understanding of where tree sparrows are in Dumfries and Galloway shows the Annan, Nith, Urr and Dee river valleys to be key habitat corridors for wintering and breeding birds.

"Research has shown that the availability of wetlands for nest sites such as rivers, ditches or ponds can increase breeding by providing a rich source of insect food.

"This is why the location of Scottish Water treatment works in Dumfries and Galloway are ideal places to install nest boxes to attract the tree sparrows for the crucial breeding season."

She said she was hopeful the sites would prove attractive and allow the population to continue to "grow and recover" in Scotland.

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