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Blue tits lose in the battle of the bird feeder

[Wednesday 15 September 2010]

Britain’s most acrobatic garden bird, the blue tit, is in steep decline, possibly as a result in changes in bird feeder technology, according to the British Trust for Ornithology.

Once upon a time, when garden owners hung out peanuts threaded on a string, the gymnastic blue tit was the supreme champion in garden birds because of its ability to hang onto the swinging line.

But with the introduction of wire mesh peanut feeders, seed dispensers, and solid block bird foods, the blue tit has faced more competition from less agile species like gold finches and long tailed tits.

The BTO has been recording garden bird numbers for more than 40 years and in that time blue tit numbers have declined by a staggering 42 per cent. Other species in decline include house sparrows, starlings and song thrushes.

These figures have been produced by the trust’s Garden Bird Feeding Survey (GBFS), the largest study of its kind in the world, and is based on data collected over 40 years by volunteer householders.

David Glue, BTO research ecologist, comments: “Forty years of the GBFS has provided a fantastic resource. It is the longest running survey of its kind in the world and has only been made possible through the dedicated observations of hundreds of UK householders who participate voluntarily.

“With urbanisation and the development of new bird care products continuing apace, the importance of the GBFS will continue to grow.”

For tips on how to attract blue tits and other species to your garden, the BTO has produced a free guide entitled Feeding Garden Birds. For copies, phone 01842 750050 and ask for the GBW team, email gbw@bto.org or write to:

The Nunnery
IP24 2PU.

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