Atlantic puffin, on Fair Isle, Scotland

Global Extinction appeal

  • 90% Europe is home to 90% of the global puffin population
  • 8 million Number of puffins we could lose over the next 50 years
  • 91% Decline in turtle dove population since 1995
Our target £1000000
£ 391000
Help us reach it

Save our puffins and turtle doves

'Puffins and turtle doves at risk of global extinction' - ITV News.

Please help turn bad news into good for the puffin and turtle dove.

Both are now facing global extinction. Two very different species are joined by this terribly sad fact and are now as threatened as the African elephant and lion.

Europe is home to 90 per cent of the global puffin population but at current rates of decline we could lose up to eight million puffins over the next 50 years. That's up to two-thirds of the European population - of which tens of thousands of puffins could be lost from the UK. Meanwhile, the UK turtle dove population is halving every six years - down 91 per cent since 1995.

This terrible news for two of our best-loved British birds is finally making headlines. But the time for talk is over. Unless we act now these species might be lost to the UK, Europe and ultimately the world.

Think what that means. Do we really want to lose two of our most remarkable and charismatic birds as UK breeding species? They could be our most significant losses since the great auk became extinct 171 years ago.

Stopping such extinctions was exactly why the RSPB was founded in 1889. We simply must not let the puffin and turtle dove suffer the same fate. 

Please help us raise £1 million to save these iconic birds.

What we'll be doing

Every year, thousands of puffin chicks on UK islands are killed by invasive, non-native predatory rats. 

As puffin pairs only produce one chick a year, this is seriously affecting their breeding success, contributing to population decline.

With your help, we aim to work with our partners to ensure 70 per cent of the UK's puffin islands are protected from the threat of invasive, non-native predators within three years. This could make a real difference for the puffin.

You can help to put monitoring and control measures in place to keep rats away from our own reserves on Coquet Island, Northumberland and Ramsey Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast.

We also need your support to work with partners who manage other vitally important puffin islands, such as St Kilda off the Outer Hebrides. In fact, we'll be taking conservation action with partner organisations across north-west Europe, especially in Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands where puffins are suffering their most serious declines.

Puffin Fratercula arctica, group, Isle of May National Nature reserve

Listen to the unique sounds of the puffin

Puffins filmed in their natural habitat - coastal cliffs in the UK.

Puffins filmed in their natural habitat - coastal cliffs in the UK.

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Protecting our puffins

Tragically, our puffins face threats at sea as well as on land. Many are simply struggling to find enough food, especially in the breeding season. 

Puffins depend on a staple diet of sandeels. But as climate change makes our seas grow warmer, undermining the plankton which props up the entire food chain, sandeels are becoming less abundant.

In areas like the far north of Scotland, this means puffin chicks are starving, with calamitous effect on their numbers.

That's why we need your help to push the UK government to establish Marine Protected Areas that include protecting seabirds. These 'National Parks of the sea' will help puffins and other seabirds by stopping the damaging fishing practices and harmful offshore developments that make the effects of climate change even worse.

The aim of all this work is to make the whole UK breeding population become much more resilient, even as climate change is making food more scarce. At the same time, there's much more we can learn to help save the puffin, so your support will fund scientific research and support legislation designed to protect them for years to come.

Puffin with sand eels in beak
Blue wood texture background

A gift today could give the puffin and turtle dove a future.

Turtle doves filmed in the UK

Footage of threatened turtle doves roosting.

Footage of threatened turtle doves roosting.

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Protecting turtle doves

Your donation will also help farmers and landowners protect turtle doves in the UK, and keep turtle doves safe away from our shores.

Every year, turtle doves arrive on our shores exhausted from a long and dangerous migration from West Africa, only to find their breeding habitats have been lost to modern farming methods. This means they struggle to find enough food to raise chicks successfully. 

In an urgent attempt to improve their breeding success, we and our partners will work with farmers to establish turtle dove-friendly habitats containing the plants they like to feed on alongside safe nesting areas. We'll work across Kent, Sussex, Suffolk and Essex; counties where half of the UK's turtle doves breed, to stop them becoming extinct.

We'll also work with our conservation partners in Europe and Africa to help protect turtle doves from hunting all along their migration route.

In Africa, we'll investigate habitat changes. With this knowledge, we hope we can support farming practices that support both turtle doves and people.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, newly fledged juvenile perched on branch, Titchwell RSPB Nature Reserve

Why we need your help


could help protect puffin colonies around the UK so they can breed successfully.


could fund pioneering research to make a scientific case for more Marine Protected Areas that will benefit puffins.


could help to create feeding grounds and breeding habitats in the UK for turtle doves to help boost numbers.