Good news for garden birds

No.:  2015-08
March 2015

2014 was a good year for garden birds, though maybe not for garden birdwatchers! Thanks to decent weather and plenty of resources, gardens were not inundated with our common garden birds according to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch. This year could be very different, however, so we need your help.

Long-tailed Tit by Jill Pakenham/BTO

By collecting weekly records of garden birds the BTO Garden BirdWatch can tell if anything out of the ordinary is occurring, as birds veer away from their seasonal trends. With the lack of birds in gardens at the beginning of 2014, alarm bells might have been rung, but overall the 2014 results were very ordinary for all of our common garden birds, and that is no bad thing.

Other BTO surveys show that 2014 was a good year for garden bird species. Preliminary bird ringing results show that Wren numbers and survival rate in 2014 were significantly higher than the five-year average, thanks to the mild weather during winter 2013/2014. It was also a productive breeding season for many of our garden birds, according to nesting and ringing data, including Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Robin and Blackbird, with the latter having one of its best years ever.

So why did we not see bumper bird numbers in gardens? Clare Simm, from the Garden BirdWatch team, commented, "Continuing mild weather and the ability to obtain food in the wider countryside meant that birds did not need to come into gardens in greater numbers than usual. While the supplementary food that we supply is valuable during adverse weather conditions, it is only used when birds need it. This demonstrates the value of having long-term datasets so that we can tell when and how birds are using gardens."

She added: "So don’t worry - our garden birds are out there!"

It could all change this year, however, and we need your help to keep an eye out for any unusual activity.

To find out more about the BTO Garden BirdWatch, including a free enquiry pack and magazine, please get in touch by emailing gbw [at] bto.org, telephoning 01842 750050, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU. More information can also be found at www.bto.org/gbw

Notes for Editors

  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 14,500 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.
     
  2. To learn more about the BTO Garden BirdWatch 2014 annual results please visit here
     
  3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.www.bto.org

Contact Details

Clare Simm
(BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: clare.simm [at] bto.org

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

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 2015-08

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050