THE HARSH winter weather over the Christmas/New Year period has caused the deaths of large numbers of birds, reports the British for Ornithology, which runs a well-supported, nationwide garden bird watch scheme.
There were several hard frosts in the last two weeks of December and, since then, cold wet weather and strong winds have caused a sharp rise in reports of birds being found dead at garden feeding tables.
Graham Appleton, who has been manning the Garden BirdWatch phones over the New Year period, reports:
"Many Garden Birdwatchers are reporting heavy use of feeding stations and we have started to receive reports of dead birds being found in gardens. One lady has just reported eight dead chaffinches in Aberdeen.
"Usually this is just the tip of the iceberg, as many birds will probably just die overnight whilst roosting in bushes. On a long, cold winter's night small birds can lose 15% of their body weight, as they burn up fat just to stay alive. Rain, high winds and low temperatures make the situation critical."
The trust is urging all householders to feed wild birds, particularly early in the morning so that they can quickly recover from the night's exposure.