Snow expected to bring record RSPB birwatch

How many robins in your garden? Picture: Ray Kennedy (
How many robins in your garden? Picture: Ray Kennedy (
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The 80,000 people in the east expected to take part in the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend can expect plenty to see thanks to the snow.

The RSPB’s opinion that the snow will force more birds into gardens had been backed up by the Thetford based British Trust for Ornithology whose ‘citizen scientists’ have provided the data to prove it.

Thousands of BTO volunteers record what birds visit their gardens every week and the trust says their data is showing a marked increase in numbers and species since the bad weather started.

Mike Toms, BTO’s head of garden ecology, the numbers of blackbirds reported, for example, dropped with mild weather before Christmas.

But he added: “The arrival of the cold weather and snow changed all this and we saw a sudden leap in the average numbers. In fact, for the week beginning 13th January, the average count (which was 5.51 individuals) is our second highest from a decade of recording.

“Of course, it is not just blackbirds that have increased their use of gardens because of the snow. We have seen similar patterns for many other species.”

The RSPB birdwath invites people to spend an hour this weekend logging the maximum number of each species they see.

Now in its 34th year, the Birdwatch has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds. In the first survey in 1979, an average of 15 starlings were seen per garden, but that fell to an average of just three starlings per garden in 2012, the lowest level ever. House sparrow numbers have fallen by two thirds over the lifetime of the survey too.

To take part in the RSPB birdwatch visit

To learn more about the BTO continuous garden birdwatch visit