Birdwatch News Archive


Goldfinches use British gardens regularly, but are they early risers? Photo: Karelj (commons.wikimedia.org).
Goldfinches use British gardens regularly, but are they early risers? Photo: Karelj (commons.wikimedia.org).Enlarge image

Bird survey for early risers


Posted on: 03 Jan 2014

Members of the public are being asked by the BTO to get up early next Thursday and count the birds on their feeders.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) needs your help on 9 January as part of a study – dubbed the Early Bird Survey – to find out whether light pollution affects the feeding behaviour of garden birds on winter mornings.

The long, cold winter nights can be a precarious time for a small garden bird. They can lose a significant proportion of their body weight trying to keep warm and therefore need to ‘refuel’ as soon as possible the next morning in order to replenish lost energy reserves. This can be seen in a peak of feeding early in the morning by a wide range of species.

This peak is especially evident in our gardens. Around half of British householders are thought to feed their birds, providing an important resource when food is scarce in the wider countryside. This reliable resource gives us a chance to understand how the nature of the surrounding habitat can affect the feeding behaviour of birds.

In 2004, the BTO’s Shortest Day Survey revealed that urban birds could afford to get up later than their rural counterparts due to increased temperatures in towns and cities. However, in studies elsewhere in the world, light pollution has been shown to have an important effect on the behaviour of birds. The BTO wants to investigate this relationship through the Early Bird Survey, which will run Thursday 9 January.

Clare Simm from the BTO’s Garden Ecology Team said: "Our 2004 survey attracted about 6,000 people, willing to get up before dawn and record bird activity in their gardens. If you can identify common garden birds and are willing to get up a little earlier than usual on 9 January then please take part. By contributing to the survey, you’ll be contributing to important research that can help us understand the effect that urbanisation is having on our birds."

To find out more about the BTO Early Bird Survey or to download the instructions on how to take part, visit www.bto.org/earlybird.


Your Comments

Tell us what you think...

You must be logged in to leave a comment. You can log in here.
If you don't have a user account please register.

Other News

Isle of Wight bee-eaters fledge

Posted: 22 Aug 2014
European Bee-eater chicks have successfully fledged at the Wydcombe Estate for the first time ever.

Read more…


Osprey breeds for first time at National Nature Reserve

Posted: 21 Aug 2014
Natural England have announced the fledging of two male Osprey chicks at Roudsea Wood and Mosses NNR, Cumbria, the first successful breeding on any of their reserves.

Read more…


Wheatears travel even further than was thought

Posted: 20 Aug 2014
Radio-tagged Northern Wheatears can travel to sub-Saharan Africa for winter – even if they hatched in Alaska – a new study has revealed.

Read more…


Chinese Crested Tern success

Posted: 19 Aug 2014
The Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern has had a second and even more successful year on the Jiushan Islands in China, with 13 young fledging.

Read more…


Glossy Ibis attempts to breed in Britain

Posted: 18 Aug 2014
A pair of Glossy Ibises built a nest at a Lincolnshire RSPB reserve this summer, the first-ever breeding attempt for Britain.

Read more…


  2 3 4 >

Back to News Listing