CONSERVATION MEASURES to help save the threatened red-billed chough have been effective in preventing further large population declines.

A new report published by NatureScot found that supplementary feeding and parasite treatment aimed at preventing chough extinction in Scotland have been successful.

NatureScot has now committed to funding the measures for a further two years to support the population, while exploring longer-term recovery options.

Red-billed chough in Scotland are currently restricted to the islands of Islay and Colonsay, where there were fewer than 50 pairs in 2018.

NatureScot Ornithologist Dr Jessica Shaw said: “This robust report is the culmination of years of practical and scientific work to prevent the loss of chough from Scotland, with painstaking work by committed individuals on the islands.

“It demonstrates that these dedicated efforts have been successful in the short-term, and we’re pleased to confirm that NatureScot will continue to fund and support this chough conservation work over the next two years," she continued.

“The report makes several recommendations for the longer-term, and we will now explore options for the future, in consultation with partners in Scottish Government and the Scottish Chough Forum.”

Professor Davy McCracken, of the Scottish Chough Study Group, said: “This is an excellent example of combining collaborative research and cutting edge modelling to address a practical nature conservation issue.

“We look forward to contributing to further key work, especially to improve feeding habitats for chough. This should focus on key grassland fields where adults take their young to feed after fledging, and on those sand dune systems of crucial importance to chough for the early years of their lives.”