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Cold snap “killer” for wildlife – RSPB

[Monday 11 January 2010]

The savage wintry weather is pushing Britain’s wildlife to the brink of a crisis, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Announcing a four point plan to help birds survive, the society’s Dr Mark Avery says: “The extremely hard winter spanning 1962 and 1963 was arguably the single event that had the greatest impact on Britain’s wildlife within living memory.

“With the icy weather predicted to last at least another week, this winter could be the single greatest wildlife killer of the new millennium.”

The society is setting up special feeding stations in areas where extremely rare species like bittens and cirl buntings live but is also asking for help from farmers and gardeners to increase food supplies for all birds in their areas.

It is also asking people to avoid disturbing wading birds because, if they are forced to fly away, they are using energy which they find hard to replace because of a shortage of food.

Farmers are being asked to put out residues from last year’s harvests and householders are urged to watch out for rare visitors like woodcock, snipe and grey wagtails, which normally keep clear of humans but are being forced out of desperation to visit gardens.

Without such help, suggests Dr Avery, many birds will die and the effect of future breeding populations will “be with us for many years to come.”

For more information on how to help the wild birds in your garden survive, see www.rspb.org.uk/advice/

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