Species Action Plan
Bats SAP Kestrel SAP

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Associated Species Action Plans



Little ringed plover

Associated Habitat action plans

Buildings, built environment


1Current Status

National Status:

Common and widespread in continental Europe, the black redstart is a recent coloniser to Britain, first breeding on coastal cliffs of southern England in 1923. It took to bombed sites in London during the 1940's and has since spread to other urban areas. It is still rarer in Britain than either the golden eagle or osprey.

According to the "New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland", surveys between 1988 and 1991 estimated 80-120 territory holding males/pairs, with 23-69 pairs proved breeding in 1991/92. This showed the continuing importance of urban sites in Central and Greater London and the Home Counties, with a second major concentration embracing towns in the West Midlands, plus key populations along the east coast.

Since 1968-72 there has been an apparent thinning of the nucleus population in London and the south east counties, possibly reflecting the continued replacement of wartime damaged buildings. This coincides with a strengthening of numbers in the Midlands and East Anglia.

Local Status:

The first pair bred in Birmingham in 1943. A number of singing males were noted during the 1960's, with a pair breeding in Bilston in 1964 and 1966. By the 1980's, the Snow Hill Station and Gas Street Basin areas were regarded as "traditional" breeding sites, with breeding also reported from factory sites, often adjacent to the canal network in the Black Country, certainly many of their sites are near water.

The strengthening of numbers in the West Midlands in lieu of the apparent thinning in London and the south-east makes the local population of increased significance. Furthermore, a perceived increase in pairs of black redstarts breeding in the Black Country has coincided with an apparent population decline in some of the former Birmingham sites, suggesting that even the local populations are still dynamic. Breeding pairs, however, constitute more than 1% the national population and are, therefore, regarded as significant.

2Current factors affecting species

The replacement of wartime damaged buildings in London and the south-east and more recent development and regeneration in the Midlands, such as the Snow Hill Station and Gas Street Basin areas, have presumably caused the apparent shift in populations. Black redstarts can also have nest sites accidentally removed/disturbed as they also nest in railway-sidings, lorry parks, etc.

3Current Action

3.1 Legal status

The black redstart is specially protected under Schedule 1 on the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. It appears in Appendix 11 of the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, whereby a range of states are encouraged to conclude international agreements to benefit the species.

3.2 Management, research and guidance

The 'Birmingham and the Black Country Breeding Bird Survey 1998-2001' will help to identify the current sites used by the black redstarts in the area. This will therefore help to address where further initiatives need to be targeted.

West Midland Bird Club undertook monitoring work in the 1980s.

4Action Plan objectives and targets

  1. Maintain existing breeding population and range in Birmingham and the Black Country  
  1. Establish population trends and conservation status
by 2002
  1. Increase the breeding population from the existing 5-12 pairs, to 20 pairs.
20 pairs by 2006
  1. Raise public awreness of the species
by 2003

5Proposed Actions

ACTION Potential
YEARS Meeting Objective No.
Lead Partner 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2011
5.1 Policy and legislation
Seek the inclusion of effective measures which protect black redstarts and their habitats in the preparation of Unitary Development Plans and/ or other policy documents. LAs EN, WT As UDPs and other policy documents are prepared 1
5.2 Site/species safeguard and management
Identify breeding and foraging areas and ensure that the information is available to Local Planning Authorities so that sites can be protected through planning system. LAs WT, ER 1
Establish procedures to ensure:                   1
  1. Surveys for black redstarts and their habitat must accompany planning applications for sites where they may occur.
LAs EN, WT, RSPB             1
  1. Information and advice can be obtained from the Wildlife Trust, Local Authorities and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
LAs EN, WT, RSPB             1
  1. English Nature is contacted as soon as black redstarts are discovered.
LAs EN, WT, RSPB             1
  1. Feed back planning case histories to review the way this species is dealt with through the planning system.
LAs EN, WT, RSPB             1
Encourage the use of experimental black redstart nest boxes. LAs WT, LCG 1,3
5.3 Advisory
Produce advice on the feeding requirements for this species. LAs, BTO RSPB             1,3
5.4 Future research and monitoring
Identify the current breeding population in Birmingham and the Black Country and monitor. LCG LAs, WMBC, RSPB 2
Develop and implement a monitoring programme to periodically assess population trends. LCG LAs, WMBC, RSPB         2
5.5 Communications and publicity
Increase public awareness of the black redstart, the male of which is a really striking bird and endeavour to make it a popular, if still uncommon, symbol of urban nature conservation success. LAs, WT, WMBC Media 4
5.6 Links to other action plans
Kestrel, buildings and the built environment, urban 'wasteland'                    

This Biodiversity Action Plan will be implemented over 10 years with a first review after 5 years. A group will be set up to co-ordinate implementation and to report to the Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group. This group will meet at a minimum on a yearly basis.

Review will be carried out in conjunction with related Habitat and Species Action Plans as appropriate and will consist of measuring achievement of targets. The group will, with the support of the Steering Group, develop and implement appropriate monitoring methods, which will inform the review process.

The Action Plan will be revised and updated in the light of review results and any relevant changes in circumstances and / or additional information which becomes available during the review period.

In line with national guidance, the Steering Group will report to the UK Biodiversity Steering Group.

Bats SAP Kestrel SAP

Biodiversity Action Plan for Birmingham and the Black Country 2000

Printing of this publication for educational purposes is permitted, provided that copies are not made or distributed for commercial gain, and the title of the publication and its date appear. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission from the Steering Group.