Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland

The ‘Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (BoCCI)’ review is jointly compiled by RSPB NI and BirdWatch Ireland to assess the conservation status of bird species in Ireland.


The ‘Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (BoCCI)’ review is jointly compiled by RSPB NI and BirdWatch Ireland to indicate the conservation status of bird species in Ireland.

The review uses a ‘traffic light’ system by placing them on three lists – Red (high conservation concern), Amber (medium conservation concern) or Green (low conservation concern).

The BoCCI assessment covers the island of Ireland, both the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI). Our objective is to update the list of priority birds, so that limited resources for their recovery can be targeted in the most effective way.

The first list in Ireland was published in 1999 and since then, BoCCI has been reviewed approximately every seven years to ensure that new data are incorporated and emerging threats to existing bird populations are identified.

The report is published in Irish Birds, the scientific journal of BirdWatch Ireland.


The latest report is the fourth review of the status of birds in Ireland. 211 bird species were assessed and assigned to the Green, Amber or Red list of conservation concern.

Of the 211 species studied, BoCCI has placed 54 (25.6%) on the Red list, 79 (37.4%) on the Amber list and 78 (37%) on the Green list).

Red list

Puffins, swifts and kestrels are among 23 birds that have been moved on to the Red list. Kestrels are thought to have been impacted by changes in land use and in farming practices have affected their prey, while it is possible that secondary poisoning has taken its toll.

Three new Red listed species have jumped up directly from the Green list. Both redwing (assessed for its wintering population) and curlew sandpiper (assessed as a passage species) are now Red-listed as European species of global conservation concern and purple sandpiper, due to the severity of long and short-term declines in its wintering population.

There has been a further decline in wading birds, with six more species (including snipe) joining the Red list. Lapwings are another wading bird that has suffered declines.

When grouped by habitat, upland (50%) and farmland (35%) bids have the highest proportions of Red-listed species. Swifts are now Red-listed due to a decline in their breeding population. Curlews and corncrakes, continue on a negative trend and both species are at risk of extinction on the island.

Amber list

There are species with improved status since the previous assessment, with five species moving from Red to Amber (European herring gull, black-headed gull, pintail, wigeon and tufted duck. All of which have populations with less severe declines.

Overall, the Amber list is shorter by eleven species.

Green list

Despite all the bad news, there are some additional positives, with 64 species remaining on the Green list.

Robins have gone from the Amber list to the Green list. It is thought that the severe weather in the two winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 led to declines in their numbers and we are now seeing a recovery from that. Great spotted woodpeckers have also moved to the Green list after having expanded their range across Ireland.

Seven other species have also moved from Amber to Green. Sparrowhawk, reed warbler and mistle thrush all have improved status, whereas stonechat, jack snipe, little grebe, and great black-backed gull have all moved onto the Green list but have some question marks against the availability of data to confidently confirm their improved status.

Sooty shearwater, assessed as a passage species, moved directly from the Red to the Green list due to it no longer being assessed as a European species of concern.

You can download the full report by clicking here.


Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland 4 Red and Amber List

Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland 4


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Gillian Gilbert

Principal Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Coast on a stormy day

Andrew Stanbury

Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Tagged with: Country: Republic Of Ireland Country: Northern Ireland Project status: Project types: Species protection