Welcome to Twite Week at The Hall of Einar.
Twite are small brown birds. To the uninitiated they might look as if they are sparrows. They are brown and House Sparrow sized. Here’s one at Knott End-on-Sea, taken this weekend with my friend Martin.
Why should we all care about Twite?
Twite are birds of open countryside, nesting on moorland, and feeding on seeds all year round. And it’s that seed-eating habit which has been part of their undoing. It’s a fatal evolutionary adaptation which is leading to their extirpation in England. Once a common bird of farmland, there were just 12 nests in England in 2021. Why? Because there’s no seed for them to eat, due to industrialised farming.
Why else are they in trouble? They breed in areas of tall heather, and destruction of heather by burning to raise Red Grouse, to be killed for entertainment, means they have nowhere to live.
Any other problems? They’re at the southern end of their range and climate change is meaning populations of many mobile species are moving north in the Northern Hemisphere as climate chaos heats the Earth. We’ve starved them and burnt their homes until there are just 12 nests left. All that’s left is an isolated population in the ‘Twite Triangle’ between Manchester, Leeds and Halifax, which needs fresh blood from other Twite to be able to sustain itself.
How can we live with ourselves?