London  - Two turtle doves may soon be the most precious gift you could give anyone for Christmas, as along with nearly 100 other types of British bird, they are in real danger of going extinct.

Its numbers have declined by 96 per cent in just 40 years, and experts have warned there could be none left within a decade. The marsh warbler and red-backed shrike also appear to be on their last wings, while birds like the wryneck - a tiny brown woodpecker - and the beautiful golden oriole are believed to be close to or have already died out.

This disheartening news comes from the RSPB’s rare breeding birds panel, who have been compiling a list of Britain’s rarest birds for 40 years - a list which now stands at nearly 100 names long. The last estimate of Britain’s turtle dove population was made in 2009 and had their numbers at around 28,000, but the RSPB say their numbers are halving every six years, meaning the number is now closer to 14,000, and they could soon be gone for good.

Declining at a similarly rapid rate is the willow tit - a once common bird whose numbers have plummeted in the last nine years, and now carries the unwanted tag of Britain’s quickest declining bird. Since 1995, there has been an 83 per cent drop in its numbers. The RSPB’s list includes species whose numbers are believed to be less than 2,000 pairs.

Among its most vulnerable are the common scoter, a dark seaduck mostly found in Scotland of which there were thought to be 39 breeding pairs in 2012, and the Slavonian grebe, a bird with golden tufts on its black head whose numbers were at 34 breeding pairs.

Songbird the marsh warbler was down to just seven pairs in 2012 - compared with 73 when the report started in 1973 - while the red backed shrike, a bird with a blue head and black stripe across its face, is down to its last few pairs. The RSPB report refers to numbers from 2012 - a year which proved bad for birds because of a stormy spring and summer - including the wettest June for 100 years - damaging trees and causing flooding.

Dr Mark Eaton, chair of the RSPB panel, told the Observer: ‘A lot of species can accommodate a bad year but it’s if we get into a pattern then there are problems. ‘We know certain species have been seriously impacted by changes in our farming. Intensification has reduced the availability of wild flower seeds they depend on. Many birds thrive in marginal areas around farms, in scrub and thick hedges, but these types of places are disappearing.’

It is not just Britain’s weather that has had an effect on our birds though. Migrating birds, which include the turtle dove and golden oriole, have also been hit hard by deforestation in Africa destroying their habitat. There is a similar problem in the British countryside, with the decline in the amount of dense woodland leading to a similar drop in numbers of even our most common birds. Other birds suffering as a result of some of these factors are birds of prey such as the red kite, honey buzzard and short-eared owl - though these are not diminishing at the same rate as the turtle dove.