|Photo by Laurie Campbell|
Why have three hen harriers disappeared?
Female hen harriers have an average survival rate of 78% a year. The survival rate of male harriers is likely to be very similar, so the probability of three of them disappearing in a short period of time, in one place, by chance, is small. When three male hen harriers were reported to have disappeared from active nests in the Forest of Bowland, alarm bells started ringing.
It is understood that the missing birds were not fitted with satellite tracking devices, so ground searches within the foraging distance of each nest may take time. Without post-mortem results or field signs, exactly what happened will remain speculation.
A juvenile male appeared at one nest almost immediately and was accepted by the female. The other two females have so far remained single, and have abandoned their current nesting attempt.
What happens next?
Locally, with the full involvement of all those on the ground, the police need to establish what has happened to these missing birds.
Three birds vanishing has highlighted the importance of implementing a full recovery plan for hen harriers in England.
NEW Read our blog post from 19th May: Sir Ian Botham joins the English hen harrier debate
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