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Siskins, redpolls and blackcaps flock in

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11th June 2013

We’re all familiar with the year round garden hardies including blackbirds, robins and blue tits but recent BTO research shows that the winter of 2013 showed a marked increase in numbers of siskins, redpolls and blackcaps being recorded in British gardens. Certainly, we witnessed all of these birds ourselves in the Ark Wildlife HQ gardens with redpolls being spotted for the first time ever.

Male Siskin Changes in wild bird species behaviour are affected by many factors including climate and weather, farming practices and breeding numbers and fledging rates. All these factors combine to produce differing frequency and abundance of garden bird visitors. Typically we’d expect to have reports of the above species appearing in gardens in late winter and peaking around March time. This, plus the birds that have travelled over from Scandinavia to overwinter in the UK, typically exhaust the natural food available in the countryside and turn to wild bird served in gardens to supplement their diets.

Modern wild bird food and the wide availability of sunflower hearts, niger seed and to a lesser extent peanuts, all provide excellent nourishment and have largely contributed to the increasing numbers being seen. We think this all goes to add to the joy of feeding wild birds in the garden but additionally demonstrates the good it does by supporting wild bird populations when natural food sources are scarce.