Watch out for Nuthatches; new online tool reveals the garden birds to look out for

No.:  2015-49
September 2015

Autumn is always an interesting time of year for garden birdwatchers and up-to-date movements of birds into gardens can now be tracked, for the first time, using the new interactive Garden BirdWatch results pages.  Developed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), these tools show that Nuthatches, in particular, are taking refuge in gardens this autumn, showing their second-highest monthly peak in twenty years.

Nuthatch by Mark R Taylor/BTO

The average numbers of seed-eating bird species vary dramatically every year depending on the amount of natural food available in the wider countryside. The last two years have seen low numbers of many seed-eaters in gardens thanks to spectacular crops of seeds like beech and Sitka Spruce. This year, however, seems to be a different story.

Many seed-eating birds are already being seen in surprisingly high numbers for early autumn, suggesting that the seed crops may be poor this year. The most exciting increase is that of Nuthatch which has already been reported from a quarter of BTO Garden BirdWatch gardens, the second highest reporting rate since the survey started in 1995. Coal Tit and Siskin are also using garden resources more this autumn, both having been seen in the highest average numbers since 2012.

We know all this thanks to the astounding amount of data collected by thousands of volunteer BTO Garden BirdWatchers over the last twenty years. Until recently only a fraction of it was available online but now, thanks to recent developments in technology, the BTO have been able to make more of it available in an interactive way. Now different species can be compared on the same graph, their distribution can be mapped and different charts can be downloaded for further use.

Clare Simm, from the Garden BirdWatch team, commented "We are really excited about these new developments. These new results pages allow us to show in greater detail  the data collected by our participants and to inform, in a new way, how gardens are used by birds and other wildlife. Gardens are extremely important habitats for wildlife and now we have a resource to reflect this."

To see the new results pages visit www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/results

To find out more about BTO Garden BirdWatch (GBW), including how to take part, 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 13,000 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
     
  2. 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 2015-49

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