Bird of prey returning to Denmark in numbers

The population of red kites is taking off in Denmark, with at least 200 breeding pairs of the bird of prey now present in the country’s natural areas.

Bird of prey returning to Denmark in numbers
A red kite. File photo: Christian Naumann/AP/Ritzau

The Danish Ornithological Society (Dansk Ornitologisk Forening, DOF) has estimated that number will as much as double in coming years.

A limited number of areas across the country, including south-eastern Jutland, Funen, Bornholm and northern Jutland, are considered the current prime spots for the species.

But the growing red kite population is showing signs of spreading to other western and northern habitats, according to ornithologist Per Rasmussen, who has collected data on the animal.

Rasmussen said that the bird is also likely to become more prevalent in western Jutland.

“This year we have found new red kite pairs in areas in which it has not previously been reported. It’s hardly unrealistic to think we could have 500 breeding pairs in a few years,” he said.

In contrast to other species of birds of prey, red kites can tolerate the nearby presence of rivals during the mating season. This makes them almost able to live close enough to each other’s territories to form colonies, which is atypical for birds of prey.

“The social nature of the kite is easy to see during the winter months, when the birds of prey sleep collectively in large or small flocks,” Rasmussen said.

During the first weekend of January, ornithologists across Europe are scheduled to carry out a count of red kite populations.

“The count in 2016 was around 50,000 red kites in all of Europe, which in practice also means the worldwide count,” Rasmussen said.

The red kite is included on the international list of threatened species. A scavenger, the bird often looks for food in Denmark near motorways and other busy roads where animals are killed by traffic.

READ ALSO: Record number of eagles now living in Denmark


Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature

A Danish environmental organization has received a positive political response over a proposal to ensure 30 percent of Denmark be reserved for nature.

Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation (Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, DN) wants the country’s nature to be written into law by way of an obligation to ensure 30 percent of Danish land to be nature reserve by 2031, DR reports.

The proposal was made as government politicians met at Marienborg, the official residence of the prime minister, on Monday for talks on biodiversity.

The concept of such a ‘biodiversity law’, which would place binding targets for Denmark on the area, was initially positively received.

The interest organization for the agriculture sector, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, has said it also supports biodiversity goals, while environment minister Lea Wermelin said she would listen to suggestions regarding both targets and legislation.

“Fundamentally, the biggest task right now is to reverse nature’s decline and ensure that over 2,000 species threatened by extinction get a helping hand and the chance to remain in Denmark,” DN president Maria Reumert Gjerding said to DR.

“So it’s crucial that politicians make commitments to nature targets,” she added.

The Marienborg meeting is the beginning of government work to implement a ‘package’ of laws on nature and biodiversity, which the Social Democratic government promised prior to the June general election.

Wermelin said action must be taken to prevent Denmark from entering a “natural crisis”.

“We are genuinely interested in a new process to form a long-term plan for Denmark’s nature. Although reports paint a bleak picture, they also say it’s possible to set a new, green direction,” she added.

The minister welcomed “specific ideas and wishes” from environmental organizations that could help in making such a plan, DR reports.

Although only 0.4 percent of the area of Denmark is currently wild nature, DN says the target could be reached by buying or renting land from landowners and leaving it to nature, as well as by ensuring a specified amount of agricultural land actively benefits biodiversity.

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