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News from the BTO

UK Minister launches Bird Challenge and BTO encourages bird feeding

Businesses Challenged to take environmental initiatives - Last week, Mike O`Brien MP, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, launched the 2004 BTO-Hanson Business Bird Challenge at Hanson`s Middleton Hall quarry in his North Warwickshire constituency. In last year`s competition, this site received awards in both the Conservation and Birds categories in the Challenge. The bi-annual competition, organised by the British Trust for Ornithology and sponsored by building materials group Hanson, encourages and recognises environmental initiatives taking place on business sites throughout the UK. In 2002, more than 100 sites registered representing 38 different companies. Participants are drawn from a wide range of industries, including aggregate, water and power companies, and awards are given in the categories of Birds, Conservation and Community. The competition not only recognises conservation efforts, but also acknowledges companies that work with communities, or make efforts to further environmental education. Happily, the results are often seen in impressive numbers of bird species, both using and successfully breeding on business sites.Commenting on the Challenge, The Minister said: Partnerships between industry and conservation organisations promote greater understanding and co-operation. The Challenge is an exciting way to demonstrate the quality of restoration and conservation work being implemented at business sites around the country.

Challenge Organiser, Helen Kramer of the BTO, said: We were genuinely impressed by the initiatives, teamwork and sheer hard work of participants in 2002 and I look forward to seeing what 2004 will bring. It is vital to encourage and recognise environmental efforts by businesses and the Challenge provides that opportunity.

For further information please contact: Helen Kramer on 01842 750050 or e-mail: helen.kramer@bto.org during office hoursChristmas Dinner for Robins - Christmas is coming and we will be surrounded with traditional seasonal images of Robins. Robins are one of Britain`s favourite birds and BTO surveys show that their numbers are generally increasing and most gardens should indeed have a Robin for Christmas! But winter is a hard time for birds and many species increasingly depend on garden feeding. Birds need to build up fat reserves simply to get through the night during winter and sufficient food sources can mean the difference between life and death. The best way to help, and to encourage Robins to your garden this Christmas, is by providing appropriate bird food during the long winter months. Garden product and bird care specialists, Gardman, have produced a new food, specifically formulated to meet the dietary requirements of this popular garden visitor. This energy packed mix was developed with the help of research biologists at the BTO and is perfect for winter feeding. The ingredients include seed, suet and dried insect and it can be fed either loose or in seed feeders. Gardman`s Wild Bird Care range has been a major success. The BTO assists with the development of these products, providing advice on all aspects of bird care, as a result of which, Gardman products carry a BTO endorsement. We are pleased to announce that we have now entered the seventh year of this relationship and to date, Gardman have provided the BTO with over ?175,000 in royalties, providing vital funding for research projects and surveys.Robin Facts

Robins in the UK are far more confiding than their Continental cousins, which are more likely to be found along woodland edges. The Robin has learned to follow us about, picking up insects which we disturb as we move leaves, mow the lawn or dig the vegetable patch. The Robin is one of the most commonly encountered garden birds, especially at this time of year. In the winter, male and female birds set up separate territories and they are therefore to be found in a wider range of garden habitats. In the summer time, they choose more wooded and shrubby gardens. Robins are fiercely territorial. Males will occasionally fight to the death in the breeding season. Male and female Robins look exactly the same. Juvenile birds, which might be seen as early as April, are brown and speckled for the first few weeks of their lives. Robins sing most at dawn and dusk. Sometimes they get confused by street-lights and may sing at night too ? just like Nightingales, to which they are closely related. The Robin was chosen as Britain`s national bird in 1960, following correspondence in The Times.Contrary to popular myth, the Robin did not receive its red breast when it was pierced by a thorn from Jesus`s crown. Not only is the Robin not mentioned in the Bible, it does not occur in the Holy Land. The Robin first appeared on Christmas cards in the middle of the nineteenth century. Until 1861, postmen wore bright red coats, earning themselves the nicknames of Redbreast or Robin. Christmas cards first depicted Robins in the guise of postmen ? delivering the Christmas mail.

What`s best for Robin?

Robins prefer to feed on the ground but make sure that cats cannot hide near-by and pounce. Feed your birds daily but do not leave out food over-night - or you may attract rats. On a cold winter`s night a Robin may loose as much as 15% of its weight, just keeping warm ? that`s equivalent to well over a stone for an average human! Finding food first thing in the morning is very important. Don`t forget to provide fresh water, to drink and bathe in.

For further information please contact: Graham Appleton on 01842 750050 or e-mail: graham.appleton@bto.org during office hours

4th July 2014