Red kite Milvus milvus, swooping in to feed on ground, Oxfordshire

Why should we protect birds of prey?

There are many good reasons to protect birds of prey. Find out more about a short selection of these on this page.

Why should we protect birds of prey?

Birds of prey are a vital part of the UK’s biodiversity

The role of birds of prey as efficient predators and scavengers is a vital, natural part of the ecological process. We have national and international responsibilities to safeguard them and try to bring them back to places from which they have been lost.

Bird of prey populations are susceptible to human activity

As well as being affected by habitat loss and deterioration, bird of prey populations are susceptible to pesticides and poisons in the environment owing to their position at the top of the food web, as well as illegal killing. Birds of prey are still missing from many places where they once thrived, both in the UK and throughout Europe. Of our 15 breeding bird of prey species, 10 are on either the Red or Amber list, with seven species also of European conservation concern.

Birds of prey are valuable indicators of the health of the environment

The fortunes of birds of prey can alert us to the state of the environment. If their populations are thriving, it generally means there is plenty of food available and the rest of the food chain is healthy.

During the 1950s and '60s, the dramatic declines in numbers of peregrines and other birds of prey alerted the world to the damaging impact of organochlorine pesticides. 

Birds of prey bring economic benefits through tourism

The widespread popularity of birds of prey means they are among the spectacular birds enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people each year at dedicated watchpoints.

This interest in birds of prey can help local economies. For example, visitors travelling to the Isle of Mull to see the white-tailed eagles, reintroduced to the west coast of Scotland following their extinction from the UK, are estimated to contribute an extra £1.4 to £2.4 million to the local economy.

Similarly, an estimated 290,000 people visit osprey-watching sites in the UK each year. These visitors are estimated to spend an extra £3.5 million in the local economy around nine of these sites, helping to support local income and employment.