The Big Garden Birdwatch Results are in, Long-tailed Tit in the Pink

The RSPB today announced the results of its 37th annual Big Garden Birdwatch. Over half a million people took part in the popular annual survey, counting over 8 million birds.

The house sparrow remains the most commonly seen garden bird, followed by the starling and blue tit. A total of 79 species were recorded; alongside the usual suspects of blackbirds and blue tits, some lucky participants spotted the likes of red kites, waxwings and black redstarts.

The mild conditions in the months leading up to the event, which took place on 30th and 31st January, seems to have greatly benefitted our smaller insect eating birds. This year’s particular winner was the long-tailed tit, which saw an increase of 44% on last year’s Birdwatch. This smart little bird, with its smatterings of pink, black and white and sociable character, is fast becoming a favourite among wildlife watchers. Ranking the tenth most commonly seen bird, it is the first time that the species has made it into the top ten for seven years.

Due to its small size the species is particularly affected by cold weather, but recent mild winters have seen the average number of long-tailed tits seen in UK gardens increase by 52 per cent since 2006. Great tit numbers have also gone up by 13 per cent, and coal tit numbers by 9 per cent.

Credit: Francis C. Franklin

Credit: Francis C. Franklin

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “The weather can have varied effects on different groups of birds in terms of behaviour and habitats used. The increase in long-tailed tit sightings, along with other smaller garden birds, just goes to show that in the absence of very cold weather these species can survive the winter months in much great numbers. The warmer temperatures have made it easier to find food, like insects, which in previous colder winters would have been harder to come by because of frosts and snow.”

There is also an argument that changing behaviour among small birds is playing a part in their increased use of our gardens. Over the last few years long-tailed tits and other smaller birds have adapted to feeding on seeds and peanuts at bird tables or from hanging feeders. Dr Hayhow continued: “long-tailed tits only started using garden feeders in recent years, and now more people are spotting them in their gardens as this behaviour develops.”

There was also good news for greenfinches, which saw a 20% increase in numbers since the 2015 survey. Greenfinches have recently seen worrying declines, which have been attributed to trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

It is not all good news, however. Several species have seen long term declines continue. Sightings of starlings and song thrushes have experienced another drop during the Big Garden Birdwatch this year. This decline continues a trend that has seen the number of both species visiting gardens plummet by 81 and 89 per cent retrospectively since the first Birdwatch in 1979. While the house sparrow remains on top of the list, the bird has seen a decline of 58% since 1979.

The top ten species recorded this year were: house sparrow, starling, blue tit, blackbird, woodpigeon, goldfinch, chaffinch, great tit, robin and long-tailed tit.

A full record of the results, with a link to source data, can be found here:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdwatch/results.aspx

1,895 total views, 2 views today

The following two tabs change content below.

Andy Painting

Writer, I guess.

Latest posts by Andy Painting (see all)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image
Refresh

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Powered by Calculate Your BMI