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They are among the most thrilling sights in nature, with million-strong flocks resembling tornados. But many varieties, including nightingales and willow warblers, are now spending up to two months longer in winter breeding grounds and may soon stay for good.

Study lead author Kieran Lawrence said: “If the trends continue, in time some birds will spend no time at all in sub-Saharan Africa ‑ and instead the full year within Europe.”

The most famous long-distance migrants are swallows, which breed in Europe and spend the winter in Africa.

But at least 4,000 species are regular migrants ‑ about 40 percent of the world’s total.

In the UK about half the species migrate, including cuckoos and swifts.

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