Watch: Top 5 birds to look out for in this weekend’s RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch
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What will you spot in your garden this weekend?
Today, garden birds are up against habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease, manicured gardens and changes to agricultural practices. Some birds adapt quickly to shifting circumstances, with an opportunistic nature which allows them to thrive and survive, whilst others struggle to fill a new niche in a changing world.
The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch – now entering its 40th year – is a citizen science survey that relies on your help to monitor our garden bird populations. The results enable us to identify inclines and declines in garden birds from one year to the next, and the accumulation of data year-on-year allows for observation of long-term trends in specie's populations.
Ahead of this year's Big Garden Birdwatch, we look at five of the top birds that you might be lucky enough to have visiting you garden.
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The UK's favourite garden bird has increased by 9% across East Anglia between 2006 and 2015. If there's one bird you'll be seeing in your garden this weekend – it will be this one!
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The waxwing is a plump bird, which is slightly smaller than a starling. It has a prominent crest. It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a yellow-tipped tail. It does not breed in the UK, but is a winter visitor, in some years in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population on its breeding grounds gets too big for the food available – if you get this bird in your garden, it'll be special!
The goldfinch is a highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting bird tables and feeders. In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain.
The redwing is most commonly encountered as a winter bird and is the UK's smallest true thrush. Its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches make it distinctive. They roam across the UK's countryside, feeding in fields and hedgerows, rarely visiting gardens, except in the coldest weather when snow covers the fields – if we get a cold snap this weekend, you know what to look out for!
Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush in general size, shape and behaviour. They stand very upright and move forward with purposeful hops. They are very social birds, spending the winter in flocks of anything from a dozen or two to several hundred strong. These straggling, chuckling flocks which roam the UK's countryside are a delightful and attractive part of the winter scene.
This years Big Garden Birdwatch is taking place between January 26 and 28. If you haven't yet registered for the world's largest wildlife survey look here.