Situation "Perilous" for Scottish Capercaillie
The RSPB and the SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) have warned that the capercaillie – one of Scotland’s largest and most iconic birds – is under serious threat. A study carried out jointly has found that the bird, a member of the grouse family, is struggling to survive in the Highlands and its numbers are perilously close to extinction. This is due to habitat loss, forestry fencing and climate change. According to the study in the winter of 2009-10 there were only 1228 birds remaining, down from a peak of over 20,000 in the 1970s. Adult male capercaillies are about the size of a turkey and are much more ungainly than their sprightlier grouse cousins. It is also a notorious recluse and tends to shelter in the forest, venturing out to mate in groups at dawn. Pete Mayhew of RSPB Scotland claims that with right management the bird can be protected, but that this is crucial.