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Country News - 2004

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Wanted: armchair ornithologists

Thursday 28 October 2004

BRITAIN'S leading ornithologists, who already conduct the world's biggest bird census with the help of thousands of amateurs, are asking for even more help this weekend on a special date in the bird watchers' calendar.

This Saturday, October 30, is 'Feed the Birds Day', when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds asks people to fill a feeder and give birds a helping hand. This year, researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) want people to go a bit further than simply providing food.

They are asking garden birdwatchers to keep a simple record of which species are visiting their gardens. The Trust's BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch project already involves some 17,000 people nationwide, making it the largest year-round study of garden birds anywhere in the world.

As Mike Toms, Garden BirdWatch Organiser, notes "Simple recording of the species that use gardens can be done from the comfort of your armchair or while washing up.

"The information gathered by this army of 'citizen scientists' has already proved invaluable in helping us understand how birds use gardens and why their numbers change throughout the year and from one year to the next."

Garden BirdWatch results show that gardens become much busier in November, as birds respond to falling temperatures, shortened daylight and declining food stocks within the wider countryside. It's also a time of year when immigrants from Scandinavia and central Europe join our resident Starling, finch and thrush populations.

Mike Toms continues: "Garden BirdWatch results have shown the dramatic impact that cold winters can have and, if the experts are right, this winter may turn out to be particularly severe, making garden feeding stations all the more important."

"To learn more about garden birds, and to receive an information sheet on feeding garden birds, write to GBW (FTB), FREEPOST, Norfolk, IP24 2BR, by phoning 01842-750050, by emailing gbw@bto.org or by visiting www.bto.org/gbw


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