BITTERLY COLD COMFORT

An Article by Mike Stentiford, MBE

FOLLOWING one of the coldest and most prolonged winters for many a long year, any small bird that somehow managed to pull through has done so because of the abundance of well stocked garden bird feeders.

 

 

Indeed, had it not been for this generosity of human spirit, there would be far fewer birds adding their vocal contributions towards this year’s spring dawn chorus.

What is apparently transpiring throughout this snow-clad winter is that thousands of birds are forsaking the cooler elements of the countryside and taking up temporary residence in our marginally warmer towns and cities.

By all accounts it is members of the tit family – blue, great, coal and marsh tit – that are arriving in their droves to find refuge along tree-lined streets and in suburban gardens.

These small, sociable and highly mobile species are apparently being seen in more gardens this winter than at any previous time.

This follows on from what has obviously proved an exceptionally successful breeding season for them during 2010.

Despite the incredibly low temperatures, the tall buildings and clustered houses in a town or city generally offer a slightly warmer and safer environment for any bird practicing its survival tactics.

Starlings are past masters at this which is why flocks of many thousands cluster each evening for some community based cityscape B&B.

But it’s not only the feathered hoi-polloi that reportedly take advantage of town and city centres; other far more countrified species are also dipping their toes into urban life!

There is, for instance, a large increase in the numbers of great-spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and sparrow-hawks seeking abundant nourishment in scores of town gardens.

Unfortunately, it’s the latter that are obviously finding the best pickings around any well attended bird table - a case of survival of the quickest I guess!

But there, with an estimated 50-60 thousand tonnes of bird food put out annually by around half of British householders, our wild birds generally don’t do so badly, do they?


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