Bird lovers invited to take part in seasonal research

Bird lovers invited to take part in seasonal research

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Bird lovers are unlikely to need an invitation to watch out for the feathered friends in their gardens - it's something they will undoubtedly be spending time doing anyway.

However, they might want to think about combining their enthusiasm with important research by taking part in a seasonal study being carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

As part of its Garden BirdWatch, the organisation wants to examine populations of garden birds as we move through autumn and into winter.

So far in 2014, bird numbers have been on the increase in our gardens, helped by a warm spring and summer. The previous Garden BirdWatch showed that Robins, Great Tits, Dunnocks and Great Spotted Woodpeckers did especially well.

Indeed, Robin numbers were at their highest for two years, while participants recorded their highest number of Great Tits in May in the past seven years.

What the BTO wants to know is whether or not these trends for high numbers will continue - and that's where you can step in. All you need to do is register and then record the birds you see coming into your garden as stipulated on the forms you'll receive.

"If carried out in a systematic manner, these weekly observations of birds (or indeed other garden wildlife) can prove very valuable for researchers. In effect, you are a 'citizen scientist' working in partnership with BTO researchers to answer important questions about how, why and when birds use gardens and the resources they contain," the organisation said.

This autumn, it may be that birds are less frequently seen in our gardens due to a bumper crop of berries - but all it would take is a sudden cold snap and this could well be reversed.

Garden BirdWatch Organiser Kate Risely urged people not to be hesitant about signing up, commenting: "Anyone who spends a few minutes each week watching what the birds get up to in their garden is already doing enough to take part."

You can get started by visiting the 'join' page of the BTO website. And did you know you can also get special seed mixes that will encourage particular species of bird to visit your garden? For instance, Robins and Wrens will love a mixture featuring fruits and dried insects. Why not give it a try?