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Heathland birds

With some of the largest areas of heath in Europe, the New Forest is particularly important for heathland birds.

Heathland is good for these and other birds because of its open nature with scattered bushes and few trees, its warm and dry habitat and the abundance of insects.

It is estimated that in the UK about 70% of heathland has been lost over the last 100 years and as a result the birds that depend on this habitat have become increasingly rare.

In the New Forest the heathland is managed by the grazing animals which keep the heather in check and prevent trees and scrub invading. Controlled burning also plays an important role in maintaining heath.

Here we look at the rare heathland bird species and some of the more common ones that you are likely to see. When you are out walking on the heathland between March and July, please keep on the main tracks to reduce disturbance to nesting birds.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of August.'

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