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Country News - 2002

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Britain's garden birds - good news for some
Tuesday 08 October 2002

BRITISH garden birds have been given a big boost by the ever-growing use of bird feeders by gardeners, according to figures just published by the highly respected British Trust For Ornithology (BT0).

They are the results of a survey carried out last winter - a time when wild birds are increasingly dependent on human help - but there is one piece of bad news: house sparrow numbers continue to collapse, and starling numbers are down too, probably due to predation by pet cats.

The detailed survey of birds using 277 gardens across the UK shows that for seven species - great tit, coal tit, goldfinch, wood pigeon, greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and pheasant - last winter's numbers were higher than ever before.

David Glue, writing in the latest issue of BTO News, highlighted three reasons for the high figures: lack of key wild-fruits in the hedgerows and woodland, an increasing reliance upon gardens and improved seed-mixes and food provision.

Unusual visitors to Garden Bird Feeding Survey gardens included red kite, the 162nd species to be seen eating at volunteers' feeding stations in the 32 year history of the survey.

The BTO is always looking for volunteers to take part in its garden bird surveys. For an information pack about membership of Garden BirdWatch and to receive a free issue of Bird Table, the Garden BirdWatch magazine, please phone 01842 750050.

Top twelve garden feeding species Winter 2001/02

Rank Species % of gardens % of gardens in 1990s (*)
1 Blackbird 100.0 99
=2 Blue Tit 99.6 100
=2 Great Tit 99.6 97
4 Robin 99.3 99
5 Chaffinch 96.8 95
6 Greenfinch 96.0 96
7 Dunnock 95.7 95
8 Coal Tit 90.6 85
9 Collared Dove 89.2 86
10 House Sparrow 87.0 93
11 Starling 84.1 93
12 Magpie 72.6 71

* Figures are the average of 10 winters from 1990/91 to 1999/2000

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