The long-tailed tit has made it into the top ten of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch for the first time in the survey’s 30-year history. Numbers of the long-tailed tit have nearly doubled since last year’s count, when it was ranked at 14.

The increase is most likely due to the milder weather this winter, as the long-tailed tit finds it harder to source food in snowy or frosty conditions.

Over the past decade, this species has also taken more of an interest in feeding from bird tables and hanging feeders, and the behaviour has spread as the tits communicate to one another that such sites hold a wide variety of food.

Garden feeders and bird tables are becoming popular among a wide variety of birds now that people leave a range of food out.

Sarah Kelly, Big Garden Birdwatch co-ordinator, says: ‘The significant increase in long-tailed tit sightings highlights the impact that feeding can have on some species.

‘This year’s survey took place on a chilly weekend and garden birds are heavily reliant on the extra food we put out. We were suitably paid back for our efforts and we need to continue—the changeable weather means they still need our help!’

Numbers of all but one of the top ten birds in the survey have increased over the past year. However, some of the UK’s best-loved species have suffered a decline since Birdwatch began in 1979, with the house sparrow’s numbers decreasing by 63% and the starling’s by 79%.

In order to support garden birds with a variety of quality food, stock up your feeders and bird tables with produce from the RSPB Birdcare range. You can order online at www.rspbshop.co.uk, and all of the profits go to wildlife conservation.

More than half a million people took part in this year’s Birdwatch, counting more than 8.5 million birds in 279,000 gardens across the UK.

 

 

Big Garden Birdwatch top ten

1 House sparrow
Average per garden 2009: 3.7
Average per garden 2008: 3.6
Average per garden 1979: 10

 

House sparrow

2 Starling
Average per garden 2009: 3.21
Average per garden 2008: 3.44
Average per garden 1979: 15

 

Starling

 

3 Blackbird
Average per garden 2009: 2.84
Average per garden 2008: 2.45
Average per garden 1979: 4

 

Blackbird

 

4 Blue tit
Average per garden 2009: 2.45
Average per garden 2008: 2.29
Average per garden 1979: 2.44

 

Blue tit

 

5 Chaffinch
Average per garden 2009: 2.01
Average per garden 2008: 2.15
Average per garden 1979: 3

 

Chaffinch

 

6 Woodpigeon
Average per garden 2009: 1.85
Average per garden 2008: 1.53
Average per garden 1979: 0.2

 

Woodpigeon

 

7 Collared dove
Average per garden 2009: 1.44
Average per garden 2008: 1.43
Average per garden 1979: 0.28

 

Collared dove

 

8 Great tit
Average per garden 2009: 1.4
Average per garden 2008: 1.25
Average per garden 1979: 0.9

 

Great tit

 

9 Robin
Average per garden 2009: 1.36
Average per garden 2008: 1.26
Average per garden 1979: 2

 

Robin

 

10 Long-tailed tit
Average per garden 2009: 1.34
Average per garden 2008: 0.71

 

Long-tailed tit

 

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