Big Garden BirdWatch Results 2017 are in…

StarlingBack in January, half a million of you took an hour out of your day to count over 8 million birds for the RSPB’s Big Garden BirdWatch.

The results for 2017 are now in. The RSPB say ‘This year saw an increase in the numbers of birds visiting gardens. For example, in 2016, starlings were seen in 40% of gardens in 2016, compared with 50% this year. Thank you to everyone who is giving nature a home in their garden: with more birds visiting gardens this year, there's a reward for your efforts.

We know that regularly feeding the birds has a big positive impact, as well as other actions such as putting up a nest box or gardening with nature in mind.’

What have we learnt about your garden birds?

Goldfinch are doing especially well according to this year’s results, numbers have increased by 44% since 2007 and are becoming a more frequent visitor to bird tables and feeders. 

Blackbirds were spotted in more than 93% of UK gardens and population figures have increased by 29% over the past decade.  

Reports of Robins visiting gardens was at its highest level for over 20 years, with a population increase of 22% since 2007.

The RSPB’s first BirdWatch was held in 1979, and since then Starling numbers have declined by a staggering 79%. Research is currently underway to try to understand the cause of the decline and help find solutions to aid population growth in the future.

Sadly this year’s survey also confirmed something that has been evident in gardens over the winter months, a noticeable decline in the population of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits –with the survey showing that the population of each has declined by at least 10% compared to last year. This was most likely caused by last year’s wet spring resulting in a reduction in the number of caterpillars for the parents to feed their chicks and resulting in fewer young surviving.   

You can view the full report and look at survey results for your county on the RSPB website.

How can you help?

The survey has once again highlighted the vulnerability of some of our most popular bird species, and the sudden impact one poor breeding season can have on population numbers.

It also shows how previously at-risk species are recovering thanks to vital research, and how the time and care people are taking to make their gardens welcoming to wildlife is having a noticeable and positive impact our garden birds.

There are an estimated 16 million gardens in the UK, and each one – regardless of the size or location – can help support future generations of birds.

Gardening with wildlife in mind, offering safe shelter and providing high-quality supplementary bird food throughout the year are all vital contributions in the effort to preserve and protect our wild visitors.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to contribute to this year’s survey, and for all you do to look after the wildlife on your doorstep. 

Sources: RSPB, The Wildlife Trust.

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