Cold snap drives birds into gardens
Birds have flocked into gardens in the face of the recent harsh weather, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has said.
Numbers of fieldfares and redwings, both winter migrants to the UK, have jumped in the past week as the freezing, snowy conditions hit.
More than five times as many fieldfares have been seen in gardens compared with the previous week, while redwing numbers have more than doubled, according to the BTO's Garden BirdWatch scheme in which 14,500 people count birds throughout the year.
Less than a fortnight ago the RSPB was warning hundreds of thousands of people taking part in its annual Big Garden Birdwatch that, with the mild winter, many garden birds could prove elusive as there was plenty of food in the countryside.
But since the snowy weather hit, common species including wrens and blackbirds have increased by a third, while song thrush and woodpigeon numbers have increased by almost three-quarters (72%), the BTO weekly count revealed.
Dr Tim Harrison of the BTO said: "Fieldfares and redwings rely predominantly on getting food from berries on bushes or soil-dwelling invertebrates.
"With the snow and ice covering the ground across large parts of the countryside, these birds aren't able to access that food as easily as they would do and are moving into gardens, towns and cities to find feeding resources."
Dr Harrison said the increase in other species such as blackbirds, and bramblings, whose numbers have increased by 52%, was the kind of movement into gardens experts would expect with cold weather.
"Our garden bird communities are very fluid, they change a lot throughout the seasons, and can be very heavily influenced by severe weather events. The survival of these birds is on a knife-edge but there is much that householders can do to help."
He said putting food on the ground, including fruit or live mealworms which are similar to their invertebrate prey, would help birds such as fieldfares and redwings.
Source: The Press Association