Bird Food Blog

Winter Birdwatch

Date: 2017-01-20 13:55:55 | Category: Bird Watching | Author: David Cole
The British Trust for Ornithology is a great organisation and on a personal level I would encourage everyone to support them – their Birdwatch programme alerts us all to problems amongst our feathered friends and their latest newsletter casts an eye over the fate of one of our favourites – the Blue Tit. The following is an extract from their latest newsletter…..

“The winter months are normally a busy time for Blue Tits in our gardens. However, the latest figures from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show that numbers are down, probably due to a wet summer.

During the winter months a lack of food in the wider countryside encourages both adult and juvenile Blue Tits into gardens, to make use of feeders. However, this November BTO Garden BirdWatchers reported the lowest numbers of Blue Tits in gardens since 2003, thought to be due to a lack of young birds this year.

The explanation for our missing birds can be found by looking back to the early summer. The wet weather across the breeding season, particularly in June, would have made it difficult for the adults to feed themselves and their chicks. Normally we would expect to see large numbers of newly fledged young come into gardens to seek food, but this year BTO Garden BirdWatch results show the lowest numbers of Blue Tits in August for eight years. This indicates that fewer young birds survived than usual this year and these findings are supported by the preliminary results from the BTO Nest Record Scheme (NRS) and Constant Effort Sites Scheme (CES) which found that Blue Tits had their worst breeding season on record.


Blue Tit Windy


Will the poor breeding season affect the number of Blue Tits we see in gardens throughout the rest of the winter and indeed affect the number of breeding adults next year? We need your help to continue monitoring their fortunes!

Claire Boothby, Garden BirdWatch at the British Trust for Ornithology, said “The Garden BirdWatch survey allows us to better understand garden birds and other wildlife and we’ll be waiting to see how Blue Tits fare this winter. We would welcome information from garden birdwatchers about what is happening in their gardens.

Dave Leech, Senior Research Ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology said "Data from bird ringers show a 31% reduction in the numbers of young Blue Tits compared to the average for the last five years. This could be due in part to low numbers of eggs that were laid, with females struggling to get into good condition after a cold, damp start to the spring. Young birds leaving the nest might have also been affected by the wet June weather."

To help the BTO monitor garden birds and take part in Garden BirdWatch please visit www.bto.org/gbw, or get in touch by emailing gbw@bto.org, telephoning 01842 750050 (Mon-Fri 9am-5:00pm).”