Seed shortage sends nuthatches and woodpeckers into gardens


credit: Chris Bradley/BTO

Have great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches or jays been unexpected visitors to your garden? You are not alone!

Annual results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch, published today, reveal that these birds flocked into gardens last autumn as tree seed crops failed to materialise. By the end of September nuthatch visitors to gardens were up 91% on the long term average, jays were up by 70% and great spotted woodpeckers by 64%.

Poor crops of beechmast and conifer seed also encouraged more coal tits, great tits, woodpigeons and chaffinches to make a beeline for garden feeders.

2012 was also an exceptional year for siskins, which are starting to visit gardens during the summer and early autumn as well as the winter thanks to an increasing breeding population and greater use of feeders.

With 15,000 participants, the BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world.

The survey highlights the importance of our garden bird-feeding stations. Mike Toms, Head of Garden Ecology at the BTO commented: “The weekly Garden BirdWatch survey is proving to be a very powerful tool, enabling us to monitor the changing use of gardens, bird tables and hanging feeders by birds.”

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