Usually held during the last weekend in January, the survey asks the public to spend just one hour counting the birds in their gardens and parks. This year about 519,000 people in the UK helped to count over 8.2 million birds. This helps to produce a list of the bird populations here in the UK.
We’ve just said goodbye to what is probably one of the warmest winters on record for England and Wales and this has certainly helped boost the number of smaller birds visiting our gardens. The Big Garden Birdwatch results have confirmed that the long-tailed tit has, for the first time in seven years, made it in to the top ten most commonly seen species.
The much warmer temperatures have made it a lot easier for birds to find food. With hardly any frosts and snow, the ground has remained relatively soft for birds to find insects. So we now know, thanks to the Big Garden Birdwatch, that when the winter is gentle, smaller garden birds can survive these months in greater numbers.
However, other garden birds seem to be struggling. Since the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979, the Starling has dropped by 81 per cent. This year the House Sparrow is the most commonly seen garden bird but even this has seen a decline of 58 percent since the start of the Big Garden Birdwatch surveys.
Now, let’s break some figures down for you.
If you’re reading this in England, then the top two garden birds counted are the House Sparrow and secondly the Blue Tit.
Records show that the Starling was top in Northern Ireland with the House Sparrow coming in second place.
In Scotland, the House Sparrow was top, with the gorgeous Chaffinch reaching the number two spot.
Wales counted the House Sparrow in first place, followed by the very attractive Blue Tit.
A favourite of many people, the Blackbird appeared in 88% of our gardens but their numbers have declined since the first Big Garden Birdwatch.
The Big Garden Birdwatch has therefore concluded that our humble House Sparrow has topped the rankings with the Starling and Blue Tit rounding off the UK’s top three garden birds.
However, although this year’s mild winter has helped our garden birds’ natural food to be more abundant, it is still very clear that these birds still need our help and rely on the food that we put out for them.
So, you may ask yourself, what’s next? Don’t let it stop at the Big Garden Birdwatch.
One of the greatest things about the UK is that we are lucky enough to have many diverse habitats. For example, marshes, moorland, woodland, lakes, coast, and fresh water lakes but of course, our very own gardens are the closest to us.
Outdoor places, gardens and parks provide a safe habitat for many species of birds and animals. They urgently need us to keep up the good work and we have a few tips for you to do just that.
Plant native species of hedges as they attract large numbers of insects providing natural protein and moisture for birds when they need it most – during the breeding season.
You can also encourage nectar-loving insects by planting certain plants at the bottom of the hedge, for example, lavender attracts bees, buddleia encourages butterflies and bees, and Ivy is the best plant for birds, insects and mammals. Haith’s Sunflower Hearts provide excellent food for birds, as they can be fed in a tubular feeder or scattered under your hedgerow.
If you don’t have a garden or room to plant a tree or hedge, you can always plant one in a large tub.
Here at Haith’s we have a saying ‘healthy bird diet, healthy wild bird’ – that’s why we work with avian nutrition experts, to constantly improve our bird foods by making them cleaner and safer for Britain's birds.
We have a full assortment of bird food mixes and straight seeds to tempt birds in to your garden, if you need accessories, we have them too – follow this link and it will take you straight through to our fantastic range www.haiths.com.
Our best advice is that it’s never too soon to plan ahead – by making your garden or outside area desirable to wildlife and birds, you’re already getting prepared for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2017…. Click here to find out how to feed more birds for less.