Mild Winter Boosts Smaller Birds

Mild Winter Boosts Smaller Birds

Over half a million people took part this year, counting over eight million birds.

The results of the 37th RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, which took place over the last weekend of January, are just in. Over half a million people took part this year, counting over eight million birds.

The long-tailed tit has entered the Birdwatch top 10 for the first time in seven years, with the average number seen in gardens up by 44%. RSPB experts are linking the increase in sightings of long-tailed tits and other smaller garden birds such as the coal tit and great tit to the mild weather in the early part of the winter. These small insect-eating birds are particularly susceptible to the cold as their natural food is hard to come by in frosts and snow.


RSPB Conservation Scientist Dr Daniel Hayhow says, “[This] highlights the importance of a well-stocked bird feeder for some species. 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.”

However, sightings of starlings and song thrushes have experienced another drop this year. This continues a trend that has seen the number of these species visiting gardens decline by 81 and 89% respectively since the first Birdwatch in 1979.

Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, says, “A lot of our favourite garden birds are struggling and are in desperate need of our help. Gardens or outdoor spaces are an invaluable resource for many species – they can provide a safe habitat and enough food and water to survive – which are likely to have a significant effect on their populations.”


Explore the full results at: 

Photo © John Bridges (


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Steve Ott

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