The results are now in from the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch that took place at the end of January and sadly they confirm some of the theories about how birds cope with the cold weather. 

As we suspected, one of the most notable things from the results is the drop in the numbers of small birds like long-tailed tits, coal tits and goldcrests from what was seen in 2009. There was concern that these smaller-bodied birds may have suffered as in cold weather they need to eat almost continuously to stay alive. 

Another sign of the cold weather was the increase in garden sightings of some birds that are usually considered to be countryside birds. We’ve written here on UKNB about redwings and fieldfares that we spotted during January’s cold weather, but around the country these were joined by bullfinches and yellowhammers as well. The lure of food on our birdtables and in feeders in our gardens probably accounts for this increase in sightings.

Blackcaps provided the biggest surprise in the results according to the RSPB. The number of these in our garden rose in 2010 and it is thought that this is due to them adjusting their feeding habits to make the most of food left out in gardens. With them being a physically small bird it was thought that they may have decreased in number, but instead the change in habit may have helped them survive the winter in better numbers than originally expected.

Full results are available from the RSPB website, including an excel spreadsheet which for each country in the UK shows the average number of each species of bird seen, and the percentage of gardens in which that species were seen. With nearly 530,000 people taking part in the survey this certainly gives us fantastic data by which to understand the current state of bird life here in the UK.

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