The effect of Covid-19 lock-down travel restrictions on avian species in the UK

This project is a collaboration with the C19-WILD research group.

Birds in the UK use a variety of habitats, some of which may be more impacted by the change in human activity associated with the Covid19 lock-down. The UK has been in lock-down since March 23rd, with severe travel restrictions with Britons instructed to only leave their homes for essential shopping, and for work (for those who cannot work from home). Furthermore, all schools are closed, and people are only allowed out for exercise once a day. Currently, most of the UK is still under severe travel restrictions, although England is now allowing people to exercise more than once daily (since May 20th), and some non-essential shops will be re-opening, and some primary school children (Foundation/Kindergarten, Year 1, Year 6) will be returning to school part-time.

Since the start of lock-down, Britons on average may be spending more time in their home gardens, which means these bird habitats may be more occupied with human activity during the day. Likewise, some green areas, like popular wooded areas may have seen an increase in human activity due to the daily exercise allowance whilst other green spaces, such as local historical trust gardens, park and woodlands, and wildlife trusts have remained closed and hence seen a decrease in human activity. Likewise, urban habitats and roadside areas (like hedgerows) may have also seen a decrease in human activity. The species that inhabit these different habitats may be affected by the sudden change in human activity in different ways, and as such, examining the abundance of birds from citizen science databases such as eBird in relation to human activity and movement data will shed light on how the Covid19 travel restrictions in the UK have affected the avian community.

Young Robin in Nature Reserve