Annual and seasonal trends in the use of garden feeders by birds in winter

Chamberlain, D.E., Vickery, J.A., Glue, D.E., Robinson, R.A., Conway, G.J., Woodburn, R.J.W. & Cannon, A.R. (2005)

Ibis 147: 563-575


GBFS counts of Woodpigeon correlated with
the size of their breeding population

Provision of bird food in gardens is a common activity that may provide an alternative food source to birds in winter. Long-term survey data recording the weekly presence of all bird species using garden feeders in the winter were analysed to see if there was any evidence of trends in feeder use between 1970 and 2000 and whether these trends were correlated with breeding bird population trends. Of 41 species analysed, 21 showed significant increases in occurrence at garden feeders between 1970 and 2000. Many of these increases were evident only in the last 10 years. Several species showed significant positive correlations between trends in winter garden use and trends in relative population size in the previous breeding season. This was especially the case for species with population change (either increase or decrease) of the greatest magnitude. There was no evidence that seasonal shifts in garden feeder use were associated with population change in any species. Temperature was an important predictor of garden use but could not explain the year-to-year trends. However, as the number of feeding stations had increased over time the response of birds to the greater food availability in gardens may have been responsible for the widespread increases in occurrence of several species.

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