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Birds seek refuge in Britain’s snowy gardens

[Wednesday 13 January 2010]

The latest results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show Britain’s birds are flooding into gardens, as food in the countryside becomes harder to find under the blanket of snow and ice.

The results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show huge increases in the use of gardens by birds as they come in search of an alternative source of food. For some species this increase has been dramatic. Redwing and Fieldfare, both types of thrush that breed in Scandinavia, have shown an increase in the use of gardens by 283% and 267% respectively compared with a normal winter.

It doesn’t stop here though. For forty species the percentage of gardens in which they occurred increased during the current snowy weather, with particularly large increases in thrushes and buntings. Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer, both small birds belonging to the bunting family that would ordinarily find refuge in Britain’s farmland, have increased by 134% and 80% respectively!

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented, “It is amazing to see the dramatic effect the weather has had on our wild birds. The increase has been most marked in the ground feeding species that are using the food put out by householders. Such provision could make the difference between life and death.”

He added, “It’s also thanks to our Garden BirdWatchers, who record the birds in their gardens every week throughout the year, that we can see how our birds are doing right across the UK during these extreme weather conditions.”

To see just how these birds are coping see Snow Watch on BBC 2 tonight at 8.00pm.

For more information on the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey and how to get involved, telephone 01842 750050 and ask for the GBW team, or write to:

The Nunnery
IP24 2PU

or visit www.bto.org/gbw

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