What bird species will be visiting your garden this winter?
With the winter season in full swing many different bird species will be heading into gardens looking for food, water and shelter. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has compiled a list of some to look out for and how you can record what you see.
Here are some of the regular visitors and some new ones you may be see in your garden.
Blackbird - UK population: 4.9 million breeding pairs.
They are seen in higher numbers in Norfolk and Suffolk gardens than in other parts of the country. At this time of year, you can expect to see four or five blackbirds together in gardens. The resident birds will try and chase other blackbirds away.
Blue tit - UK population: 3.4 million breeding pairs.
Found in nearly all gardens and all year round, but their highest counts are in December and January, with an average of three or four seen together at once. They prefer to feed on hanging bird feeders and often hang upside-down to get at food.
Robin - UK population 6 million breeding pairs.
Robins are among our most familiar garden birds and are unusual in that they hold their territories all year round not just in the nesting season; this is the reason why you may hear them singing in winter.
Goldfinch - UK population: 1.2 million breeding pairs.
A bird many people have noticed appearing in their gardens in greater numbers, they have increased nationally by more than 70pc in the last ten years, and are an increasingly common garden visitor.
Greenfinch - UK population 1.7 million breeding pairs.
They have declined dramatically, with more than half of the national population lost over the last ten years due to the disease Trichomoniasis (which causes disease at the back of the throat and in the gullet).
This once-common garden bird has a habit of congregating in large numbers at garden feeders which makes them susceptible to disease transmission.
Though numbers have declined across the UK they are seen in higher numbers in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Redwing - UK population: 650 thousand individuals in winter.
This year you may be lucky enough to see visitors in your garden such as redwings. These small thrushes are closely related to song thrushes but they have a marked white stripe over the eye and rusty-red ‘armpits’. They are seen in less than 10pc of gardens in Norfolk and Suffolk in midwinter, which is lower than other parts of the country.
Blackcap - UK population: 1.1 million breeding pairs.
In the summer Blackcaps are birds of woodland and countryside and aren’t often seen in gardens. In the winter they migrate to the Mediterranean, but as our breeding birds leave we are joined by blackcaps from central Europe, which spend their winters in British gardens. They feed on berries and sunflower hearts.
Collared dove - UK population: 990,000 breeding pairs.
Now considered a common British bird, they only started breeding here in 1955. Seen in gardens year-round the BTO have recorded a decline since 2005. Their changing fortunes have been attributed to both competition with wood pigeons and a susceptibility to Trichomoniasis.
House sparrow - UK population: 5.1 million breeding pairs.
They are social birds, nesting in colonies, and only move small distances to find food. In many areas there have been steep declines since the 1970s. Between 1995 and 2015 the population in the East of England declined by 33pc.
Claire Boothby, Garden BirdWatch development officer at the BTO, said: “Many people often ask how to attract birds into their garden and one of the best things to do is to provide water, through a bird bath or wildlife pond. It is good to garden for wildlife and some choice planting can be invaluable, offering nesting opportunities, shelter and providing a source of natural food.
“Of course putting out supplementary food is also a great way to attract birds into gardens, and we know that feeding the birds can provide a lifeline for them, aiding over-winter survival and reproductive success in a range of species.”
How can you help?
Anyone with a garden and an interest in birds can take part in the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch.
It is a weekly survey where people record the birds they see, allowing the BTO to look at how birds use gardens differently across the seasons and to explore changing trends overtime.
More information about the project and bird advice can be found on the BTO website, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01842 750050.
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