Starling, by John Harding

There were three components to the Birds and Garden berries Study. Our main focus was on the use of berries by wintering thrushes (Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare) but two of the components allowed participants to record other birds feeding on berries (e.g. Waxwing, Starling, Blackcap and Woodpigeon).

Component one - Which berries are available and when, and which thrushes feed on them?

This component was ued to record berry availability throughout the 2012-13 winter for five different berry-producing plants. Participants kept a weekly record of when berries were available on the plants and when each of the five thrush species were seen to feed on the berries. MORE >>>

Component two - How long do berries remain on a plant over the winter?

This component looked at how the availability of berries on different plants changed over the course of the winter. Participants were asked to keep a regular count of the number of berries on a plant, or part of a plant, to find out how quickly they disappear. They could either record different plants or different branches on the same plant, since berry depletion rates may vary with where on the plant the berries are carried (e.g. berries on the top of the shrub may be taken preferentially by birds). MORE >>>

Component three - Which birds feed on which berries and do they prefer certain types?

David and Barbara Snow famously studied how birds fed on different berry-producing plants in the countryside around the Vale of Aylesbury. We wanted to expand on their work, both geographically and in terms of questions being asked and hoped to discover which plants are favoured by particular species. We can then  inform wildlife gardeners looking to support the birds that visit their gardens. This component allowed participants to keep a watch on the berry-producing bushes within their gardens. MORE>>>

Related content