Iolo Williams (whose speech at the launch of the State of Nature report in 2013 was a YouTube sensation) has kindly offered to champion Red Kite as his nomination for our National Bird. If you agree with him, then why not cast your vote today. David Lindo's National Bird Campaign runs until 7 May so you only have two more weeks to make your mind up.
The red kite is stunning. With its pale head, orange-brown body and long, russet-coloured tail, it’s one of Europe's most beautiful and elegant birds of prey. During the Middle Ages, it was one of our commonest raptors and as late as the 18th century, several pairs were reported to be nesting in the city of London. For the next 200 years, however, this species was persecuted to the brink of extinction. Birds were trapped, poisoned and shot in their thousands and by the 1890s, the red kite had become extinct in England, Scotland and Ireland, leaving a mere handful of pairs to cling on in the remote upland valleys of south west Wales.
Thanks largely to the unwanted and persistent attention of egg collectors, the remnant population increased painfully slowly and in the late 1980s, the decision was taken to reintroduce birds from the continent into England and Scotland. Since then, both the native Welsh population and the introduced birds have been remarkably successful and today, the total UK population is in excess of 3,000 breeding pairs. Red kites are now found throughout much of their former haunts from Pembrokeshire to Norfolk and from Wiltshire to the north of Scotland.
No other British bird has come so close to the brink of extinction before defying all the odds to flourish in our modern landscape. It’s a survivor, a raptor that has withstood everything we humans could throw at it. No other bird is more deserving of your vote as Britain's National Bird than the red kite.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654