Warmer weather keeps birds in the UKSurvey expected to show climate change effect

26 January 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people will be in their gardens this weekend to take part in the world’s biggest bird survey.

Conservation charity RSPB says the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ will help provide a picture of how rising temperatures and last year’s wet summer have impacted on common birds.

One species expected to benefit from the changing climate is the goldfinch.

Usually goldfinches migrate to southern Europe for the winter, but the RSPB expects that more will stay in the UK this year due to milder temperatures.

Milder temperatures

Last year’s extremely wet summer may also have helped blackbirds and song thrushes to thrive, as the warm, damp conditions will have made it easier for them to find snails, slugs and earthworms to feed their young.

The national birdwatch has been running since 1979 and provides a snapshot of how the UK's garden birds are doing.

While collared dove and woodpigeon numbers have grown massively in the past three decades, other birds such as starlings, chaffinches and the once-common sparrow have seen a serious drop in the average seen per garden.

According to the RSPB, gardens are a vitally important habitat for wildlife, and many garden birds are doing well because people provide them with safe havens with food, water and shelter.

Garden habitat

Anyone can take part in the survey. Simply spend one hour over the weekend counting the birds in your garden or local park, and record the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time.

Sarah Kelly, the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch co-ordinator, said: ‘The great thing about Big Garden Birdwatch is that anyone can do it. 

‘You don't need to be an expert; all you need is a pen and paper. It's easy, it's fun and it only takes an hour. Grab a cuppa, sit down, relax and enjoying looking at your garden and the birds in it.’

Visit the RSPB website for more information and to submit your results online.