Abnormal Plumage Survey

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).

Leucistic House Sparrow by phenolog, on Flickr
Leucistic House Sparrow by phenolog, on Flickr

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.

Our Garden BirdWatch Ambassadors

Wren by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr
Wren by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr

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.

Amanda Skull
tel: 01792 891013 (h)
tel: 07952 758293 (m)
e-mail: gbw@hiafi.co.uk

Mick Bailey
tel: 01633 869580 (h)
e-mail: mick@mickbailey.fsnet.co.uk (h)

In addition to his GBW activities, Mick also gives other talks on birds in order to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. He also gives talks on MS itself.

The BTO GBW team can be contacted at BTO headquarters in Thetford:

01842 750 050

BTO GardenBirdWatch/ WTSWW Garden Wildlife Conference

Details of the programme for this autumn’s Garden BirdWatch conference are now available.

British Trust for Ornithology and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Main Building, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3AT

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.

IPG_101212_297 by Paul Gulliver, on Flickr
IPG_101212_297 by Paul Gulliver, on Flickr

Avian Poxvirus

Avian Pox 3 by Feathers (Joe), on Flickr
Avian Pox 3 by Feathers (Joe), on Flickr

Avian poxvirus has been reported widely in the news recently as the disease quickly spreads across the UK.

It has been around for a few years, but we are now witnessing particularly severe symptoms in Great Tits and other parids.

BTO provides information about diseases in garden birds and what measures you can take to help.

If you are unfortunate to encounter diseased birds in your garden, please contribute to our understanding of these diseases by reporting your details online or direct to:

Garden Ecology Team
e-mail: gbw@btw.org
tel: 01842 750050

  1. Bird pox ‘sweeping through UK’. Today, BBC Radio 4, 3 August 2011
  2. Avian pox spreading across the UK – Have you seen affected birds? Wildlife News Extra, August 2011
  3. UK garden birds hit by avian pox virus. The Guardian, 3 August 2011.

Garden Recording

Wood Pigeon by Marc Davison, on Flickr
Wood Pigeon by Marc Davison, on Flickr

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?

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