The corncrake is an example of how some birds can come to rely heavily on particular systems of land management.

Corncrakes thrive when farms have plenty of tall vegetation for cover in the breeding season. Systems of late cropping and corncrake-friendly mowing allow the adults and young birds to survive.

Once found in great numbers across the UK, the corncrake was badly affected by changes to farming practices in the 20th century. Populations plummeted in just a few decades, but the species retained a toehold on Scotland’s western and northern edges.

Corncrake (Crex crex) in a wetland area, South Uist.  ©Lorne Gill/SNH For further information contact Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library, Battleby. Tel 01738 444177 or
Corncrake (Crex crex) in a wetland area, South Uist.
Click for a full description

©Lorne Gill For further information contact NatureScot Image Library, Battleby.

Numbers have now recovered following targeted habitat management, but most of the corncrake’s previous range is still unoccupied.

Protection of corncrakes

Find out how Scotland’s wild birds are protected.

Learn about birds and licensing.

Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

Find out more

Read our guidance for planners and developers on wild birds.

Last updated: