Save our seabirds

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Please help us protect our vulnerable seabird colonies.

Seabirds under threat

Avian flu has spread through our seabird colonies with devastating speed. It is a highly contagious disease and, due to the migratory nature of birds, it has spread rapidly between different species across the globe. Tens of thousands of birds have died from avian flu this year in Scotland alone.

The damage wrought by the disease is exacerbated by external pressures. The climate crisis has caused ocean temperatures to rise, affecting the fish that make up a proportion of seabirds’ diet. Some fishing practices also result in a loss of food for seabirds to raise their young.

In addition, island refuges are under constant threat from non-native species. The accidental introduction of predators, such as rats and mink, leads to attacks on seabirds, their eggs and their chicks. This process is so quick that seabirds cannot sustain their population.

Did you know?

Out of the 25 different seabird species breeding here in the UK, 24 have plummeted to Red or Amber status on the UK’s list of Birds of Conservation Concern.

Donate today

Over 1 million seabirds live at places that are cared for by our charity. We have a duty to protect them, but seabird resilience is at an all-time low. That’s why we’re asking for your help today in our campaign to protect vulnerable seabird colonies. There is hope for our seabirds, but we need your support – can you make a gift today?

Save our seabirds

Please help us protect our vulnerable seabird colonies.

Donate today
Guillemots crowd on a cliff ledge at St Abb's Head

How your gift could help

  • Avian flu – monitoring and research

One of the most important things we can do is monitor how avian flu is impacting our seabird colonies. Knowing how it spreads and looking at natural immunity will help shape long-term responses to the disease.

This is why we are making an increased effort to monitor and count seabirds at our properties. On St Kilda we’ll be counting Leach’s storm petrels, great skuas and gannets this summer, while at St Abb’s Head we’ll be counting gannets and guillemots.

Avian flu has badly hit the guillemots of St Abb’s Head NNR – 65 dead chicks were counted in just one day.

We’ll also record the numbers of avian deaths to ensure we have a more accurate picture of the impact the disease is having on our seabird populations. We are working with other organisations and academics to support ground-breaking research into how avian flu operates in seabirds. A donation today can ensure this vital work to save our seabirds can continue.

  • An end to sand eel fishing

We’re adding our voice to the national campaign to close sand eel fisheries in Scottish waters. Sand eels are a vital source of food for many seabirds, including the puffin. However, the warming of the oceans has made the sand eel scarcer. Removing the additional fishing pressure could be an immediate lifeline to seabirds.

MSPs and Scottish fishing communities are generally in support of closing these fisheries as it would have little domestic impact. We’re hopeful that this campaign will help restore a vital food source for many seabirds.

A puffin with sand eels in its beak.
  • Biosecurity

It is essential that we keep non-native species away from our seabirds. Once a new predator is introduced to an ecosystem, seabird numbers can plummet as eggs and chicks are eaten.

While all our islands have emergency response plans in case a pest is spotted, the best way to protect our seabirds is to prevent non-native species reaching the island in the first place. We’re building on our work with cruise ships, tourist boat operators, island visitors, private boat owners and contractors to ensure that they bring no stowaways.

All our seabird rangers have biosecurity training and are vigilant for signs of non-native species at their properties.

Our scientists are also developing new tools to remotely monitor invasive animals. Some of these tools will be world-firsts and use new technology such as sensors and artificial intelligence to help us monitor non-native predators, even in the most inaccessible parts of Scotland. By supporting our appeal, you’ll help us retain these high biosecurity standards and innovations, and ensure our seabirds are protected from non-native threats.

Did you know?

Only 16,000 pairs of great skuas exist in the world; over 60% of these breed in Scotland. However, almost two thirds of the great skuas on St Kilda were found dead last year, and even greater losses were recorded in some other Scottish locations.

At this time, we do not know if great skuas will be able to recover and it is possible that they could become extinct.

Donate today
A huge cliff rises from the sea, with gannets swooping in the air.

Save our seabirds

Please help us protect our vulnerable seabird colonies.

Donate today