Bumper season for garden birdwatchers begins


credit: BTO/Jill Packenham

Garden birdwatchers can look forward to one of the most exciting winters ever with birds already pouring into back gardens following food shortages in the countryside, according to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Seed- and nut-eaters such as siskins and bramblings are leading the charge. Numbers of these two finches in gardens have been four times higher than average at this time of year, as food in woodlands runs short, results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch, a year-round survey of garden wildlife, have revealed.

Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “October saw levels of garden bird activity that we would normally expect at the end of November, so we are already well ahead of the curve this year. As winter draws in and natural foods are depleted yet further, people can expect to see lots more birds on their feeders.”

There were 331% more siskins and 295% more bramblings in gardens last month compared with the October average from the previous three years. There were also 90% more nuthatches, 85% more jays, 66% more great spotted woodpeckers and 62% more coal tits.

The survey also showed that more than 80% of our frequently spotted garden bird species have been more abundant in gardens this October than during the same period in 2009 to 2011.

To make the most of this bumper year, Dr Harrison advised that gardeners should “aim to provide a range of bird foods in your garden, such as suet blocks for tits, sunflower hearts and nyjer seed for finches, mealworms for robins, ground seed mixes for dunnocks and apples and pears for thrushes. Then, just sit back and let the BTO know what you see”.


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