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Armchair Birders Wanted

?to help monitor the changing fortunes

The British Trust for Ornithology wants to recruit armchair birdwatchers to help monitor the changing fortunes of birds using gardens across Britain and Ireland.

October 30 is Feed the Birds Day, the day when the RSPB asks people to fill a feeder and give birds a helping hand. This year, researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) want people to go a bit further than simply providing food. They are asking garden birdwatchers to keep a simple record of which species are visiting their gardens. The Trust`s BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch project already involves some 17,000 people nationwide, making it the largest year-round study of garden birds anywhere in the World.

As Mike Toms, Garden BirdWatch Organiser, notes Simple recording of the species that use gardens can be done from the comfort of your armchair or while washing up. The information gathered by this army of citizen scientists has already proved invaluable in helping us understand how birds use gardens and why their numbers change throughout the year and from one year to the next.Garden BirdWatch results show that gardens become much busier in November, as birds respond to falling temperatures, shortened daylight and declining food stocks within the wider countryside. It`s also a time of year when immigrants from Scandinavia and central Europe join our resident Starling, finch and thrush populations.

Mike Toms continues, research shows that some two dozen species of birds are attracted to gardens where food is provided. The provision of food, coupled with good hygiene practices, can potentially make a real difference to the over-winter survival of many different species. Garden BirdWatch results have shown the dramatic impact that cold winters can have and, if the experts are right, this winter may turn out to be particularly severe, making garden feeding stations all the more important.To learn more about garden birds, and to receive an information sheet on feeding garden birds, write to GBW (FTB), FREEPOST, Norfolk, IP24 2BR, by phoning 01842-750050, by emailing gbw@bto.org or by visiting www.bto.org/gbw

Results from the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch show the top ten garden birds in the last week of October to be (average figures for 1995-2003):

1. Blue Tit (93% of gardens)
2. Robin (88% of gardens)
3. Blackbird (84% of gardens)
4. Great Tit (79% of gardens)
5. House Sparrow (76% of gardens)
6. Dunnock (70% of gardens)
7. Collared Dove (67% of gardens)
8. Greenfinch (67% of gardens)
9. Chaffinch (64% of gardens)
10. Starling (56% of gardens)

4th July 2014