The cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) is a charming relative of the yellowhammer that was once widespread and locally common across southern Britain. It suffered a massive decline during the 1970’s due to changes in farming practices.
The loss of nest sites and food sources has been highlighted as the main reasons for this decline. The remaining birds are now mostly confined to south Devon.
Since 2006 Paignton Zoo has worked with the RSPB on a translocation project releasing cirl buntings at suitable sites in Cornwall. Up to 70 birds have been released each year and many pairs have successfully bred in their new location. In 2012, no new translocations will occur as it seems the Cornish population may now be self-sustaining.