Distribution and breeding of red kites Milvus milvus in relation to afforestation and other land-use in Wales.

Published online
28 Aug 1996
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Newton, I. & Davis, P. E. & Moss, D.

Publication language
UK & Wales


Between 1946 and 1993, the numbers of territorial red kites, which form an isolated relict population in central Wales, increased from seven pairs to 113 pairs. Throughout this period, concern has repeatedly been expressed that the afforestation of the Welsh uplands might affect kites adversely, by reducing the area of open foraging habitat. At present, only 16% of the total area used by kites in Wales is under trees. The several analyses performed here gave no firm indication that conifer afforestation up to current levels has had any detrimental effects on the distribution, numbers or breeding performance of kites. Within the local landscape, kites preferred areas rich in native oaks [Quercus] and other broadleaved trees in which to nest. Such remnants of woodland emerged as the main features influencing their distribution within the current range. Within the range of local densities found in Wales (1-13 pairs per 5-km square), kites bred no worse, and no better, at high density than at low density.

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