What will the winter hold for birds?

No.:  2014-65
November 2014

So far the unusual weather of 2014 has clearly driven unexpected highs and lows in garden bird numbers. With another bumper crop of food in the wider countryside, British Trust for Ornithology Garden BirdWatch (GBW) results show that some species have abandoned gardens for the second autumn in a row. However, others are being seen in unprecedented numbers prompting the question: what will happen this winter? With Christmas approaching, why not grab a front row seat for a loved one with the GBW gift pack, so that they can help us find out?

Wren by Jill Pakenham/BTO

This year has not produced the expected patterns in garden use by birds. During the summer, it looked like garden bird species were returning to normal numbers. The warm, settled weather led to an early breeding season, boosting numbers of birds such as Wren and Goldfinch.

High numbers did not persist. With a bumper crop of seeds and berries in the wider countryside for the second year in a row, there has been a dip in many species, matching patterns seen last year. Chaffinches started off in very low numbers at the beginning of the year, looked like they could be returning to gardens in August, but then dropped off again, and the pattern of Coal Tits is similar. However, other seed-eating species have remained in high numbers in gardens, such as Nuthatch and Jay.

Clare Simm, from the BTO Garden BirdWatch team, commented  "With surprising patterns of garden use by birds, it looks set to be an interesting winter for garden birdwatchers. We can only chart the patterns of movements by garden birds with the help of the public, and if you enjoy watching the birds in your garden, you can help add to this vital information."

If you, or someone you know, spend a few minutes each week watching what the birds get up to in your garden, then that is already enough to take part in the BTO Garden BirdWatch. Our GBW gift pack makes the perfect Christmas gift, so why not grab a front row seat for you, or a loved one, to help us find out what the winter holds.

To buy a BTO Garden BirdWatch gift pack, or to find out more information about the BTO Garden BirdWatch, please get in touch by emailing gbw [at] bto.org, telephoning 01842 750050, or write to GBW Gift Pack, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU. More information on the gift pack can also be found at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/join/garden-birdwatch-gift-pack

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. The Garden BirdWatch Gift Pack is being sold for £17.00 as a Christmas special offer, reduced from £19.99.
     
  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

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