BTO’s Garden Ecology Team regularly receives reports of birds whose feathers have gained unusual colourations. These range from white (leucism/albinism), black and brown (melanism), red (erythrism) to yellow (flavism).
BTO wants your help to explore which of these conditions are most common, the species most frequently affected and where these birds are found.
If you have ever seen a bird with abnormal plumage in your garden, please submit the details through the Abnormal Plumage Survey.
You can also post your pictures on the GBW Flickr stream.
South Wales is one of several areas of the UK where the BTO has appointed volunteer ‘ambassadors’ to arouse public interest and participation in its Garden BirdWatch scheme.
Amanda Skull covers the area west of Cardiff, while Mick Bailey covers from Cardiff to the English border. In practice they help each other out and do not keep rigidly to this territorial division.
Their activities include radio broadcasts, press articles, talks to clubs and other social groups (bird and wildlife groups, churches, WI, PROBUS, U3A, etc), stalls in garden centres and at various events.
They are always on the lookout for such opportunities and would welcome enquiries and suggestions.
09:30 – Arrival
10:00 – Introduction
10:10 – Why gardens and local garden birdwatchers matter, Tim Harrison (BTO Garden BirdWatch)
10:40 – Recording moths in your garden, Norman Lowe (Butterfly Conservation)
11:10 – Coffee and biscuits
11:40 – The Cardiff Garden Wildlife Survey, Rob Parry (WTSWW)
12:10 – Power from the Severn: good or bad for birds? Nigel Clark/Lucy Wright (BTO)
12:40 – Buffet lunch with tea and coffee
13:30 – Positioning of garden bird feeders, Richard Cowie (Cardiff University)
14:00 – Nature’s greatest pollinators, Nigel Ajax-Lewis (WTSWW)
Tickets for this conference are £12.50 per person, including lunch and other refreshments.
Further details and a booking form can be downloaded.
The latest Garden BirdWatch Newsletter has just landed in my email box.
A short feature on the appearance of Woodpigeons in gardens struck a chord, as a lone bird has started visiting our garden just this last week. It looks a little out of place in my urban back yard, and its the first time I’ve recorded the species at home. A garden tick!
Like many other volunteers, my weekly counts of garden birds are added to the Garden BirdWatch scheme. The records provide a valuable insight into the importance of our gardens to Britain’s bird life, and as individuals we can see how our own records form part of the national picture.
It seems that June or July are the months when this species occupies a greater percentage of gardens than at any other time of year. My Woodpigeon then, wasn’t lost after all, but was following an established species trend.
More details of the Garden BirdWatch scheme are available.
Why not sign up and make your garden’s birds count?
BTO’s GardenBirdwatch team have produced a guide to help bird lovers protect against predation at home.
With the impact of predators on songbird populations featuring heavily in the news, the public are keen to know what they can do to help. Many predators can be found in gardens, and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has produced free guides to advise armchair birdwatchers.
It is an issue that divides garden birdwatchers. Whether it is a Sparrowhawk swooping stealthily to take a Robin, a Magpie raiding a Blackbird nest, or a moggy prowling for House Sparrows – the impact of predators on songbird numbers stirs up heated debate. The act of predation can be more obvious in gardens and householders have been seeking unbiased, scientific information about the important issues faced and practical tips on how to help their songbirds.
There is concern, for example, that smaller birds that gather at feeding stations are an easy target for predators like Sparrowhawks – but steps can be taken to help tip the balance. The BTO Garden BirdWatch team recommends positioning hanging feeders close to tall and dense vegetation, enabling smaller species to grab food and, if necessary, flit quickly into cover. Moving feeders regularly is also a top tip, since Sparrowhawks tend to follow regular flight paths through gardens.
Cats are thought to take some 55 million birds in British gardens every year, including red-listed species such as House Sparrow and Starling. Various cat deterrents can help to reduce this toll, with sonic devices being particularly effective if moved regularly to prevent cats from learning how to avoid their sensors. This and many other great hints are available from the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch team.
Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “Those who have a predator visit their garden face many tricky questions. Should I keep feeding birds if I see a Sparrowhawk? How can I reduce the number of birds that are taken by my cat? These and other questions are addressed in the free guides produced by the BTO Garden BirdWatch team.”
He concluded: “With Sparrowhawk numbers having recovered in recent decades and some nine million cats – around one for every seven persons – in the UK, there is understandable concern about the impact of predators on songbird numbers. The public need impartial, scientific advice, and this is where we can help.”