Categories
Travel

Top Places to See Waxwings this Winter

While many of the United Kingdom’s birds head south during winter for more pleasant and warmer climates, the winter months see the return of waxwings.

Often called Bohemian waxwings, these striking birds visit the colder shores of the United Kingdom as early as October.

Once in the UK they make the most of the abundant food sources here.

Waxwing
Image by Ted Smith via Flickr

These birds typically arrive from Scandinavia where, as the weather plummets, their food sources dwindle.

Despite the United Kingdom having cold winters too, the weather here is not as harsh as in Scandinavia, making our trees, bushes and wilderness the perfect place for them to feed.

Waxwings are a colourful and welcoming sight on often grey and gloomy days.

While the birds typically arrive onto UK soil along the northern coasts, they can be found further inland as more and more arrive. Late 2023 and early 2024 is set to see the largest irruption of waxwings in recent history.

While waxwings do arrive in the UK every year, large irruptions of the species cause the period to be renamed as a waxwing winter.

Waxwings are only in the United Kingdom for a short period, so to help identify the best locations in the country to see waxwings here is a quick guide.

What do Waxwings look like?

Waxwings are similar in size to starlings and are frequently found in coastal areas of the UK durning the winter.

The best time of year to spot them is between early October and mid-December, as numbers tend to decrease gradually as the months progress.

The visiting population of waxwings has typically left UK shores by mid-March.

Waxwings are easily identifiable thanks to their striking appearance.

Waxwing Close Up
Image by StuartJPP via Flickr

Waxwings have bright red tips to their wing feathers, which resemble droplets of wax once used as a seal on paper.

Their bodies are typically plump and as well as their prominent red tips, their wings also feature orange and white feathers.

Waxwings are also easy to see thanks to their black mask around their eyes and bright yellow flare on their tail feathers.

It is easy to see waxwings in the UK as they are typically in large groups known as irruptions.

If you are struggling to visually spot waxwings, listen out for their call.

Identifying their call, which sounds like a small bell ringing, is a good way to help you see waxwings in winter.

What do Waxwings do in the UK?

Waxwings come to the UK to feed each year, however visiting numbers vary.

As their primary source of food runs out in Scandinavia the birds fly west in search of brightly coloured berries and Rowan trees.

The birds will then return home after the winter season to breed.

What do Waxwings eat?

Waxwings are partial to the bright red and orange fruits found on ornamental trees across the United Kingdom.

Many of these trees are in towns and cities as decorative foliage in parks and around car parking areas.

Additionally, waxwings can be found enjoying Rowan berries which are often planted on country lanes and around farms.

Waxwing Eating Berrys
Image by Normal West via Flickr

Rowan berries are a favourite berry of the waxwing, with many spending much of their time perched in these trees making Rowan’s a great place to start to see waxwings.

Waxwings also eat hawthorn, rose and cotoneaster berries.

If you want to attract waxwings to your garden, planting trees that fruit with red berries is a great way to encourage them during winter.

This is also a great way to attract other birds staying in or visiting the UK during the colder months.

Why do Waxwings come to the UK?

Waxwings arrive in the UK as early as October and typically spend the entire winter in the country, departing around April.

These colourful birds are typically from Scandinavia and Russia, and arrive in the UK in search of food.

As the supply of berries in their native countries runs out, the supply in the UK is often plentiful.

If the supply of berries across Europe and the UK is plentiful, the birds tend to stay longer.

After the food supply in the UK begins to dwindle you can see waxwings head back out over the North Sea.

They depart the UK as late as early March to return home to breed.

The Best Places to see Waxwings in Winter

Wherever you go this winter, the best places to see waxwings are those with a plentiful supply of berries.

Waxwings are partial to Rowan and other brightly coloured red and orange berry trees.

If you cannot reach one of the best places to see waxwings, it is still possible to see these beautiful birds.

Waxwings arrive in the country all along the eastern coastline and they have been sighted in more southern areas of the UK.

Northern Isles

The northernmost points of the UK are typically where Waxwings arrive as they leave Scandinavia.

Whilst the Northern Isles often see harsh weather during winter, there are still plenty of berries for them to feed on.

See waxwings on the Northern Isles by spending time around the coastal regions and keeping your eyes peeled for brightly coloured berries adorning trees and bushes.

After feeding here, waxwings will typically move further inland and settle in areas along the Northumberland coast.

To see waxwings in the Northern Isles it is best to arrive early in the waxwings season.

North Yorkshire

Another excellent location to see waxwings in winter is in North Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire has a long stretch of coastline and a plentiful supply of berries for the waxwings to feed on as they arrive.

Head further into North Yorkshire inland to see larger irruptions of waxwings as they find a suitable place to nest for the winter.

Norfolk

Norfolk and its coastline is another great destination to spot waxwings.

Waxwings can easily arrive on the Norfolk coastline on their journey east from Scandinavia.

Waxwings will be looking for sources of berries, which can even be found in car parks around supermarkets.

Larger groups of waxwings, or irruptions, are however often found on the East Anglia coastline.

From here the birds head inland, with some being sighed as far south as Surrey.

Categories
Conservation

Fertilizers and Pesticides: The Fatal Impact on Birds

Can you picture a world without birds? The forests would fall quiet, your backyard feeder would remain empty.

But that’s not the worst of it. If all birds went extinct, it is predicted that every biome on Earth would face a loss of biodiversity so severe it would lead to the rapid destruction of the ecosystem, otherwise known as homogenization.

Juvenile Blackbird
Image by Grigory Shalik via Flickr

This would have fatal implications for all species, including humans. This thought experiment is not the start of a sci-fi novel. Today, scientists fear that future.

They warn us that if we don’t make significant changes within the next ten years, our bird populations may in fact disappear.

Facts Behind Reduction in Bird Populations

A study conducted between 1970 and 2022 found a reduction of more than half of US bird species, a loss of over three billion birds.

Grassland birds, typically seen on farms and in prairies, are experiencing the fastest loss with the well-known backyard birds not far behind at only one-third of their sustainable population size.

Sprague's Pipit
Image by Luke Theodorou via Flickr

This study placed seventy new species on the list of bird groups at their ‘tipping point,’ meaning that fifty percent or more of their population has died off in the last fifty years and they are now at severe risk of extinction.

And it isn’t only the experts chiming in.

Over the last few years, people have been slowing down and observing the natural world around them. Since 2020, bird watching trends have skyrocketed– people turned off their T.V.s and turned their eyes to the sky.

Bird watching apps currently report more incoming data than ever before showing what birds are living where and in what numbers.

Over the last few years, the data has shown reductions in numbers and bird watchers are publicly voicing their concern at the loss of their favorite backyard bird.

The Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, Cornell University, and the Soil Association agree that the top causes of bird population declines include climate change, expanding agriculture, unsustainable forest and prairie management, invasive species, domestic cats, and habitat loss.

However, the most fatal factor is fertilizer and pesticide use in large-scale farming, backyard gardening, and landscaping.

“We have the most compelling evidence to date that the dramatic increase in the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers has been the most significant driver of the declines of bird species and numbers” Gareth Morgan, Soil Association Head of Farming Policy

The Main Reason for Reductions in Bird Populations

The number one culprit: Neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a fatal family of pesticides that linger in soil for three years before breaking down.

Areas with 19.43 nanograms per liter or higher in substrates in the environment are shown to experience a 3.5 percent increased loss of bird populations per year.

Tractor Spraying
Image by nicephotog via Flickr

Neonicotinoids are heavily used in commercial farming, but you may be surprised that your backyard pesticide likely falls into this deadly family too.

Have you noticed less chirping out your back window since you started treating your lawn?

Common weed-and-feeds are especially dangerous. Imagine the green space provided by every lawn on your block including shelter, water in the forms of bird baths and puddles, food in the form of insects, seeds, and berries.

Now imagine this resource taken away from the bird population depending on it, or worse, it being poisoned. Your actions at home make a difference.

The proof is in the numbers. Ninety percent of all bird loss consists of common backyard birds, including sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and finches.

The toxin works indirectly to malnourish birds in a myriad of ways. The toxin kills bug populations normally present in healthy, organic soils.

These insects are birds’ primary food source and are especially important during breeding season to sustain themselves and their offspring and to teach the offspring how to hunt.

Insect
Image by Ricardo Japur via Flickr

Birds may also eat seeds doused in the chemical, which can be lethal after only a few days.

Nectar-drinking birds, including hummingbirds, face additional risk due to ingested toxins and loss of plants needed for shelter and food.

Birds are additionally poisoned directly through contaminated drinking water.

Problems with Declining Bird Populations

Declining bird populations means big problems ecosystem-wide.

Birds are one of few biodiversity indicators, meaning their population size and overall health indicate the overall health of the ecosystem in which they live.

Hummingbird
Image by Kevin Schonhofer via Flickr

In short, removing birds from the ecosystem has catastrophic consequences. Birds act as both predator and prey. They control insect populations and comprise a significant portion of several animals’ diets.

Birds are also pollinators and seed dispersers, helping to maintain plant life. They impact every aspect of nature and play a vital role.

Bird conservation consists of agroecological farming approaches using organic practices, sustainable land management, adding green spaces to urban environments, decreasing pollution and water contamination, restoring habitats, and preventing the introduction of invasive species.

As you can see, if we start with a focus on bird conservation, we can save the birds and make a much bigger impact on nature and the quality of human life at the same time. Bird conservation leads to safer environments for us to live in, healthier food sources, less carbon dioxide in the air, flood mitigation, and more. It also ensures the beautiful morning song outside your bedroom window every morning.

What Can You Do To Prevent This?

Bird conservation starts with you. It starts in your backyard first and foremost and continues through your word as you speak out on behalf of the voiceless. There are many things you can do to help.

  • Write to your local government officials about regulatory changes in farming practices and land management.
  • Put pressure on the EPA to take dangerous fertilizers and pesticides off the market by spreading awareness of the problem and speaking out.
  • Fight to list at-risk bird species under the Federal Environmental Species Act to encourage their protection and rehabilitation.
  • Influence food system reform through a nature-friendly diet.
  • Use nature-friendly gardening and landscaping techniques, including bird-safe fertilizer and traditional pest control, such as cornmeal or predatory insects whose species are naturally found in your area.
  • Teach others the benefits of bird conservation.

Birds are loved and appreciated by many. Let’s show them how much we care by saving them from extinction before it’s too late.

Categories
Production Updates

Proud to be Powered by Raspberry Pi

Did you know? Nest Box Live uses Raspberry Pi’s energy-efficient technology! Every one of our AI-Powered Bird House and Nest Box Camera systems uses Raspberry Pi’s tiny single-board computers.

We thought you might want to learn a little more about Raspberry Pi and what other devices use these boards. You might be surprised how popular they are! 

Nest Box Live Raspberry Pi Logo

Raspberry Pi boards are small but powerful, and they really don’t use too much energy, which made them the perfect choice when we were developing our AI-Powered Bird House and Nest Box Camera

With Nest Box Live, what you get is a nest box with an AI-Powered camera system that detects different bird species, sends notifications to your smartphone, and live streams the birds in your nest box to social media.

Our 8-megapixel 1080p HD image sensor captures birds in incredible detail, and AI recognition tells you which birds are visiting. This is all brought together by Raspberry Pi.

Nest Box Live Blog Product Top

Raspberry Pi enables all kinds of IoT devices…

There are lots of smart home appliances, security systems and smart tools and gadgets that use Raspberry Pi.The technology is perfect for internet-of-things (IoT) devices that connect to the net and use cameras or sensors to share information.

It was originally developed as a low-cost alternative to mainstream electronics like smartphones and tablets and has really taken off as a component for smart and robotic devices.

The ability to easily add sensors, motors, batteries, or cameras makes Raspberry Pi perfect for creating wildlife, weather, and environmental monitoring devices

UK Met Office Weather Observation Station

Take a look at how the UK Government’s Met Office uses Raspberry Pi to collect weather observations more efficiently.

Met Office Raspberry Pi

RaspberryShake Seismograph

What about RaspberryShake’s professional-grade seismograph and infrasound monitors?

Raspberry Shake

Bandai Namco Jukebox O Rama

There’s also Bandai Namco’s nostalgic Jukebox O Rama home musical and gaming experience.

Jukebox O Rama

One of the coolest things about Raspberry Pi is how much it’s used as a learning tool by educators, kids at home, and hobbyists and amateur builders because you can do so much with it.

You can literally build your favorite gadgets at home without them costing a fortune! 

To see how we use Raspberry Pi, learn more about the features of Nest Box Live, from the AI and powerful camera to the sensors and notifications that tell our customers EVERYTHING that happens in their nest boxes!

Why not checkout the list of ‘Powered by Raspberry Pi’ products on the Raspberry Pi website?

Categories
Travel

Top 5 Places in the UK for Beginner Birdwatchers

The UK is a great place for beginner birdwatchers to observe some of the countries most stunning avian wildlife.

As a country we are lucky to have such varied natural landscapes which offer unique habitats for a variety of native and visiting birds.  Finding the ideal location to see these birds can be daunting for beginner birdwatchers.

There are however there are plenty of exciting destinations across the nation that offer a range of talks, walks, support and more.The best way to see birds in the UK is to get to know the birds in your local area, which will help with recognition of species.

Armed with a guide book and a visit to one of the top 5 UK destinations for beginner birdwatchers, it is possible to see some incredible birds and other wildlife. 

These 5 locations also offer beginner birdwatchers a chance to see rarer birds that are currently flourishing in their natural habitats. Here are the top 5 places in the UK for beginner birdwatchers.

RSPB Minsmere (Top Choice for Beginner Birdwatchers)

RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk was one of the first RSPB reserves in the UK and is one of the best destinations in the UK for beginner birdwatchers to visit.

Firstly, this beautiful nature reserve is perfect for beginner bird watchers as it offers lots of rare bird sightings.

Bearded Tit Minsmere
Image by Lynn via Flickr

Additionally, it offers opportunities to see other wildlife in their natural habitats.

The nature reserve includes a variety of landscapes including shallow lagoons, heathland and wet grassland which creates a variety of habitats perfect for many species of birds.

At Minsmere it is possible to see Avocets, Bearded Tits and Bitterns, and other wildlife including otters and red deer.

There are many hides and viewing points throughout the nature reserve that are open from dawn till dusk.

Four hides offer accessible access ensuring every visitor has the opportunity to spot some of the UK’s most spectacular wildlife.

Minsmere is a great destination for families as they offer nature trails, an education centre with lots of hands on activities for children and adults alike, and guided walks with experts year round.

Make the most of your day here and enjoy a bite to eat in their cafe, or explore the visitor centre to learn more about the birds and wildlife found in the reserve.

Farne Islands (Beginner Birdwatchers Favourite)

The Farne Islands are perhaps the most well-known UK birdwatching destinations and is one that is ideal for beginners.

Visit the Farne Islands through landing tours or ‘sail around’ boat tours with knowledgeable guides.

Here you will find an important breeding ground for around 23 species of sea birds.

The islands dramatic and rocky cliffs are home to approximately 43,000 breeding pairs of puffins.

Also, trips to the islands can reveal Arctic terns, guillemots and eider ducks.

Guillemot Farne Island
Image by Keith Simpson via Flickr

The best time of year for beginner birdwatchers to visit the Farne Islands is between May and July.

During this time puffins are nesting on the cliffs and are easily visible from the boats.

Visit the Farne Islands in June to see Pufflings, with older chicks taking their first flights towards the end of July.

Eider ducks also nest and breed on the cliffs of the island.

These beautiful birds are locally called ‘Cuddy’s Ducks’ after St Cuthbert.

St Cuthbert, a 7th century hermit known for living on the islands, is known for his kindness to birds particularly during the stormy weather that frequents the islands.

On ‘sail around’ tours you may spot puffins heading out to sea to fish and Arctic terns dive-bombing other birds.

These tours are ideal for beginners as they included commentary and information about the breeds visible during the trip.

Additionally these tours offer some of the best opportunities to see a wide variety of incredible seabirds up close.

Loch Garten

Loch Garten is an RSPB destination nestled inside the Abernethy Nature Reserve.

The landscape consists of the largest remaining Caledonian pine forest in Scotland.

Loch Garden features a contrasting landscape of of moorland, wetland and mountains.

These landscapes provide excellent habitats for a range of native birds and other wildlife.

During Spring and Summer pairs of breeding Osprey, Crested Tits, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Siskins nest in the forests.

Crested Tit Loch Garten
Image by Andrew Mckie via Flickr

Loch Garten is a haven for other wildlife too including common lizards, red squirrels and bank voles.

Dusk at Loch Garten is the best time to see Wild Greylag and Pink-footed Geese.

To make this a memorable destination for beginner birdwatchers of all levels, it is possible to hand-feed coal tits at the nature centre.

RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve

RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve is a great place for beginner birdwatchers to see some spectacular British birds.

The nature reserve features a variety of landscapes and habitats including shingle, wet grassland and wildflower meadows.

RSPB Dungeness is the ideal destination to spot migratory birds on their way to continental Europe and beyond.

Spring and autumn sees vast migrations of swallows, Martins and swifts.

This nature reserve is home to Marsh Harrier, Bittern and many sea birds.

Marsh Harrier Flying
Image by Phil Gower via Flickr

The winter months also offer ample opportunities to watch birds with wigeons, Teals and Tufted Ducks.

Haweswater Nature Reserve

Haweswater RSPB Nature Reserve is a beautiful Lake District destination for beginner birdwatchers to visit.

This nature reserve covers 30 square kilometres (11.58 square miles) of mossy woodland, heathland and moorland bogs.

Streams cross over the nature reserve creating a thriving habitat for a number of native birds.

This area of the Lake District is currently going through a rewinding program.

Osprey
Image by Dan via Flickr

Firstly, rewilding aims to restore the natural landscapes and habitats within the reserve.

Secondly, this process will increase the number of insects, wildlife and birds in the park.

Visit Haweswater during spring and summer for a chance to see an increased number of birds in breeding pairs.

Here you can find Osprey and Ring Ouzels flying over this dramatic forested mountain landscape.

The nature reserve has many hiking trains through ancient woodlands offering ample opportunities to see many beautiful birds.

There are also a number of wildlife hides where beginners can safely see native birds without the fear of scaring them away.

Categories
Bird Behaviors

Why Have Birds Disappeared From My Garden This Winter?

Birds are a staple of any UK garden. 

In the summer months, an explosion of life can be seen in and around our gardens and countryside, as hungry months eagerly stock up on food and race to breed. 

Come winter, however, there is a considerable reduction in the number of birds in our gardens. 

Robin in Winter Snow
Image by Tony Nellis Photography via Facebook

But why?

Well, there are various reasons. From natural migrations to spikes in diseases, this article aims to explore why there seems to be fewer birds in our gardens over the winter.

Birds Migrate South For The Winter 

The most obvious reason for the apparent lack of birds is simply because they are no longer around. 

During the summer months, temperatures and environmental conditions are relatively stable. Oftentimes, there is an abundance of food, which can support healthy populations of birds of all species. 

In winter, however, resources are depleted. Temperatures plummet and storms become more prevalent. All of these factors make survival increasingly difficult.

Blue Tit in Winter Snow
Image by Tony Nellis Photography via Facebook

So, how best to avoid poor environmental conditions?

Easy! To leave altogether. 

The process whereby an animal travels from one region to another is referred to as migration. 

There are a variety of different types of bird migrations. However, the most common forms displayed by UK species are:

  • Seasonal Migration – The movement of species between breeding and non-breeding regions. 
  • Latitudinal Migration – The movement of species from North to South, and vice versa. Many UK garden birds disappear in the winter, as they travel South to warmer climates. 

Many bird species that can be found in gardens across the UK in the summer months make arduous journeys in search of warmer climates. 

In temperate regions, such as the UK, it is estimated that at least half of our birds are migrants. This is especially the case for insectivorous birds, which migrate to where insects are more abundant. 

UK Migratory Bird Species

Some of the most famous migratory species found in our gardens are swallows.

Twice yearly, these small, highly aerial birds embark on an impressive 6,000 mile migration between the UK and South Africa. 

Swallows Flock
Image by Keith Simpson via Flickr

During the summer months, swallows gorge themselves on flying insects, such as horseflies and grasshoppers. Come autumn, populations of insect prey dramatically decrease. 

To avoid starvation, these little birds, weighing just 20 grams, travel up to 200 miles per day to reach new foraging grounds. 

But hey, I think I would battle exhaustion and starvation if it means getting out of a British winter. 

A very similar species to swallows, the swifts, also travel thousands of miles every year to escape the peril of British winter’s. 

Departing from the UK between June – August, new data has revealed that swifts can travel between their breeding sites in the UK to their new foraging grounds in Africa in just 5 days. They have been known to stop in countries bordering the Atlantic coast of North Africa. 

However, these highly agile birds aren’t the only ones to leave our gardens. 

Whitethroats, and other warbler species, as well as thrush species, such as wheatears, also take to the sky as winter approaches in the UK, leading to further disappearances in our UK garden birds. 

In October, having spent the summer months breeding in the UK, whitethroats leave our shores and make the treacherous journey to Sahel, just south of the Sahara. 

This dry area is prone to periods of drought which, if for prolonged durations, can affect the overwinter survival of whitethroats. In the late 1960s, a severe drought in the region led to a 90% population crash in the UK population on whitethroats. 

West Africa is a popular winter destination for many UK bird species. Cuckoos, redstarts and turtle doves also leave UK gardens and disappear over the winter period. 

Changes To A Garden Setting

Once overlooked for their small size, and seeming inability to house significant environmental resources, gardens have now been proven to be a vital hotspot for many ecological niches. 

Not only can they offer foraging opportunities for a variety of bird species, gardens can also provide shelter and nesting spaces – especially with the addition of artificial features such as bird feeders and nest boxes. 

Coal Tits on Bird Feeder
Image by Brian Kennedy via Flickr

However, many bird species are highly neophobic. They do not like change and are wary of novel items. 

But, when you’re on the menu for a lot of other species, this is understandable. 

Have you changed the layout of your garden? Added any new features? A new washing line perhaps, or even a garden gnome? 

Even features that would seemingly increase a bird’s survival, such as new feeders, may be the very reason that birds are no longer visiting. 

All it takes is a bit of patience. 

It takes just a couple of brave, or hungry, birds to eventually inspect the new settings. Eager eyes watch and wait, ensuring the coast is clear before joining.

Declining Populations 

There is a final, more sinister reason as to why you may be seeing fewer birds in gardens over winter: population declines. 

There are a range of different factors that influence population declines. Some, such as diseases, can be seasonal. Other factors, such as climate change, are having long-term implications on our garden birds. 

Disease Affects Garden Birds

For humans, the common cold becomes progressively more pronounced in the winter. People remain indoors and within close proximity to one another, allowing the disease to spread like wildfire. 

Well, something similar occurs in birds. 

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects many different bird species. 

However, during the winter months, a more serious strain of avian flu, known as highly pathogenic avian flu (HPAF), has been taking a toll on bird species commonly found in gardens. 

It is thought that migrating waterfowl species, such as ducks and geese, act as carriers for the disease, spreading it to susceptible species, such as reed buntings. 

HPAF spreads from bird to bird via contact with infected salvia, nasal secretions or feces. It can also be transmitted by predation. However, once this aggressive strain of flu makes its way into a population, the damage can be irreversible. 

Bacterial bird infections, such as that of Salmonellosis, is another problem for many garden birds over winter, especially seed-eating birds such as sparrows and finches. 

With natural food resources depleted, different species of garden birds may congregate in one centralized location, such as a bird feeder, where food resources are still plentiful. With such a high volume of birds in one area, droppings will inevitably accumulate. 

Bird feces, infected with the Salmonella bacteria, contaminate food items, which are then ingested by other hungry birds looking for an easy meal. This is referred to as faeco-oral transmission. 

The combination of viral and bacterial, as well as parasitic, infections over the wintering period can cause serious population declines to our garden birds. 

In the last 11 years, populations of chaffinches have fallen by 30%, whilst populations of greenfinches have decreased by 67%. Both of these declines are attributed to disease outbreaks.     

Habitat Loss 

When we talk about habitat loss, it is easy to think of the industrial deforestation occurring in our tropical rainforests. 

Chaffinch on Ground
Image by Tony Nellis Photography via Facebook

Now, while this is a serious global issue, habitat loss occurs all across the globe. Habitat loss is the destruction of any habitat which supports native species and is more broad than just the loss of trees. 

Swifts, swallows and house martins, for example, often nest in old buildings close to a water source. 

For successful nests, it’s all about location, location, location. The nest itself has to be easily accessible, and free of obstructions such as branches. Typically, nest sites for these species are under eaves of old houses. 

However, many old properties are being redeveloped or torn down altogether to make way for new developments, leaving no suitable nesting sites for these small birds. 

Many new homes are seeing the switch from natural to artificial lawns. This blatant destruction of habitat destroys natural foraging grounds, removes nesting material and increases competition for suitable nesting sites. 

If you absolutely have to use artificial grass, and I strongly suggest you reconsider, try adding natural borders of native flowers, bird feeders, insect houses and nest boxes, and leaving any larger trees. 

Climate Change 

Climate change has been negatively affecting wildlife populations throughout the world. 

However, some of our resident UK garden birds may have actually benefited from a changing climate. Some species, such as the nuthatch, have colonized new, northern areas which were historically too cold for the small bird. And, as a response, have disappeared from gardens further south. 

Nuthatch on Tree
Image by B.Dawson Photography via Facebook

But, whilst some birds seem to be better off, impacts on other bird species, especially migratory birds, have been far more dire. 

Long-distance migrants, such as swallows and whitethroats, do not benefit from the warmer winter temperatures. These species are also affected by weather conditions in their African wintering grounds. 

As the climate in these parts of the world increases, we’re experiencing more severe droughts, intense storms and frequent wildfires. All these factors are destroying natural bird habitats at a faster rate than usual. 

As a result, UK breeding populations of winter migrants fluctuate in relation to weather conditions in Africa. 

Migration Problems 

As a response to climate change, investment into the green energy sector has seen an enormous boost. 

Short Eared Own with Wind Turbine
Image by Les Lawrence via Instagram

One of the most endorsed green energy schemes, wind farms, seem like a great idea to provide an alternative to fossil fuels. 

And, whilst they are, offshore wind farms are having negative impacts on migratory bird species.

As migratory birds travel across open oceans between Africa and the UK, the risk of collisions with turbine blades is increased, affecting overall populations of birds, further decreasing populations seen in gardens. 

Final Thoughts 

Bird populations in our gardens fluctuate seasonally. 

During the summer months, a bountiful supply of food and stable environmental conditions sees a large bird diversity visit our gardens. 

However, when conditions become less favorable, almost half of our bird species migrate southwards, vacating our gardens for the winter period. 

Unfortunately, climate change is affecting migrating birds; both in the UK and wintering countries, such as Africa. Climate mitigating strategies, such as wind turbines, are also negatively affecting migrating birds through collisions. 

Want to make a difference? Try a bit of citizen science this winter period and record the bird species you see in your garden. Submit findings to the RSPB to help scientists track bird numbers.