Results

Nearly 2,000 people took part in the survey and the exciting final results have now been collated. Over the survey period, the percentage of participants who provided nyjer seed increased moderately from 84% in October 2010 to 92% in March 2011, as can be seen in the graph below.

Percentage of gardens providing nyjer 

However, over the same period, the percentage of survey participants who reported Lesser Redpoll feeding on nyjer in their gardens increased dramatically, from 6% in October 2010 to 46% in March 2011 (see graph below).

Percentage of gardens with Lesser Redpoll feeding on nyjer

The latter graph could simply reflect an influx of Lesser Redpolls into gardens during late winter, something that we know to occur through BTO Garden BirdWatch data. However, interestingly, where other foods were provided by survey participants in addition to nyjer, Lesser Redpolls spent most time feeding on nyjer in four out of five cases (see pie chart).

Time spent on nyjer seed and other foods

These are really interesting results and have monitored an emerging trend in our gardens. While these findings do not show necessarily that the provision of nyjer seed is causing the recent movement of Lesser Redpolls into gardens, they illustrate that this food is supporting large numbers of individuals in our villages, towns and cities during late winter. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey. If you want to continue to chart the fortunes of Lesser Redpolls and other birds in gardens please join BTO Garden BirdWatch.

If you want to give Garden BirdWatch a go, why not ask the Garden Ecology Team for a free three-week 'taster pack'? Email garden.ecology [at] bto.org or telephone 01842-750050.