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The Spotted Flycatcher has become a species of great conservation concern in Europe and the UK following a period of prolonged and accelerating decline. We consider a range of population models for UK census data between 1965 and 1996, along with independent survey data designed to estimate demographic parameters. Population declines are similar in the major habitats and regions of the UK, indicating that a broad-scale factor has influenced the population. Nest record data show that changes in individual nest success are not the cause of the increasing decline. This is more likely the result of a fall in the survival rates of fledged birds prior to the next breeding season; we show by comparison with the recoveries of ringed birds that the most likely cause is an increased mortality rate of birds either shortly after fledging or within the subsequent first year of life.