Flocky Robin - numbers rocket in gardens

01 Dec 2010 | No. 2010-12-60

The festive Robin – well known for its solitary, territorial behaviour – has become much more chummy during the prolonged freezing weather. Since the start of November, the average number of Robins per garden has increased by nearly 60%, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch reveals.

Unusual image - six Robins together

There are many collective nouns for birds: a charm of Goldfinches, a bellowing of Bullfinches, a dole of Doves. But none exist for Robins. Charismatic, colourful and confiding to humans, Robins are less than friendly to their own kind, remaining territorial throughout the year.

During harsh winter weather, however, these boundaries can break down with groups of Robins feeding cheek by jowl on bird tables and feeders. Householders who participate in the year-round BTO Garden BirdWatch have charted their numbers and those of other species across the UK during the current freezing conditions. Since the start of November 2010, the percentage of gardens occupied by a Robin has increased from 88% to 96%, but the average number of Robins per garden has increased to a much greater extent, from 1.04 to 1.65 individuals – an increase of 59%!

This increase in numbers has been captured perfectly by BTO Garden BirdWatcher Clwyd Roberts in Duddon, Cheshire who photographed an astonishing count of six Robins together on his bird table. The BTO Garden BirdWatch Team would like to hear from anyone who has had unusually large numbers of Robins in their garden this winter and would welcome more photos. Please contact the Team by email: gbw [at] bto.org or post: GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “These results are hot off the press and show how Robins have piled into gardens during the extreme weather conditions. Robins are such familiar garden birds but when you see a small group of individuals together it is so unusual that it really catches you by surprise. Along with the snowy weather, the rush of Robins into gardens has made for an idyllic festive scene.”

He added: “Many people have been stuck indoors because of the icy conditions, but BTO Garden BirdWatchers have put this time to good use with some quality armchair birdwatching. Robins are among a suite of species, including favourites such as Blue Tit, Redwing and Fieldfare, which have swept into gardens in greater numbers during recent weeks.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Latest results of Robin from BTO Garden BirdWatch:
  1. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.
  1. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 15,000 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see www.bto.org/gbw

Contact information 

Tim Harrison (BTO GBW Development Officer) 
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Email: gbw [at] bto.org

Paul Stancliffe (BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at] bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2010-12-60

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Please contact us to book an interview, Office: 01842 750050

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