Woodland, particularly when broadleaved, shelters a range of birds feeding on the insects and other invertebrates they find there as well as seeds and nuts during the winter months.

Some woodland birds, such as the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Tit, have declined by more than 50% since 1970.

Overall woodland bird populations were reported in 2009 to have fallen by an average of 20% across 33 species in the last 25 years. Birds heavily reliant on woodland for food, breeding and roosting, have severely declined whereas some more adaptable species, able to use a wider range of habitats, have increased.

The Repeat Woodland Bird Survey concluded that changes in woodland vegetation structure were the most likely driver of woodland bird declines. Potential causes of these structural changes include increases in woodland age, reduction in active management, and possibly increased deer browsing.

In the BAP we  have highlighted some priority bird species that breed in woodland in Barnsley for which habitats should be maintained and enhanced.

Lesser spotted woodpecker

Spotted flycatcher

Pied flycatcher

Willow tit

Numbers dropped by 71% from 1970 to 2010

Only 1,500 pairs breeding in UK in 2009

Numbers dropped by 88% from 1970 to 2010; 50% from 1995.

Only 36,000 pairs breeding in UK in 2009


Numbers dropped by by 50% from 1995 to 2010.

Only 18,000 pairs breeding in UK in 2009

Numbers dropped by 93% from 1970 to 2010, 79% from 1995

Only 3,400 pairs breeding in UK in 2009

UK BAP & S41 priority species, red listed

UK BAP & S41 priority species, red listed

Amber listed

UK BAP & S41 priority species, red listed

Widespread red listed wood-land birds include:

lesser spotted woodpecker, spotted flycatcher, tree pipit, willow tit, bullfinch, lesser redpoll, and hawfinch.

The woodland bird indicator includes: green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted wood-pecker, marsh tit, willow tit, coal tit, gold crest, treecreeper, nuthatch, jay, lesser redpoll, siskin, hawfinch, sparrowhawk, spotted flycatcher, tree pipit, redstart, nightingale, willow warbler, garden warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff, wood warbler,


wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, song thrush, long-tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, chaffinch, bullfinch, tawny owl, lesser whitethroat.

Bold S41 priority species

Spotted Flycatchers have declined rapidly and consistently since the 1960s.

Productivity measures indicate lower clutch and brood sizes and greater nest losses at the egg and chick stages and a drop in numbers of fledglings per breeding attempt.

Decreasing survival rates may have been caused by deteriorations in woodland quality, particularly leading to declines in the large flying insects that are food to the flycatcher, or by conditions either on the wintering grounds or along migration routes.

A predator 'control' experiment has indicated that the abundance of nest predators may be determining the breeding success of Spotted Flycatchers, especially in woodland, where nest success was lower overall than in gardens.

Another study using nest cameras has identified avian predators, especially Jays, as responsible for most nest losses.

British farmland and woodland-edge breeding populations have suffered badly. Now conservationists say the more benign habitats of gardens and churchyards not usually affected so adversely by pesticides can play a major role in the bird’s survival.

Pied Flycatchers are restricted to upland deciduous woods in parts of western and northern Britain.

Numbers have shown widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980. Decreasing fledgling survival rates are probably due to a decline in insect prey.

Proposed Local Action