08:21 Wednesday 15 May 2013

Who's moving into your garden?

Written byLeah Cassady

New housing has become widespread in eastern England during recent decades, as the region’s population has boomed.

Very little is known, however, about how birds and other animals colonise these areas, and many unfamiliar faces are likely to be turning up. The British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch team wants help finding out which ones!

Great Tit
Great Tit
















Of the top ten fastest growing cities in the UK, half are found in eastern England. This vast swell in numbers has led to numerous new housing initiatives. While sometimes controversial, these projects present a fantastic opportunity to investigate the importance of new gardens for local wildlife and how birds and other animal communities settle in and change over time.

The relatively open structure of newly-created gardens might suit certain species, such as Starlings, Blackbirds and Robins. As vegetation matures, however, new species are likely to be attracted – but exactly which ones? We simply don’t know! Lots of new houses are set to be built over the coming years across the country, as the human population continues to expand, so it is important to consider what benefits new developments may bring to wildlife.

Typically, modern gardens are smaller than older ones, with patios and decking more widespread, and vegetable plots and herbaceous borders less so, than in the past. Such changes could have a substantial influence on numbers of House Sparrows, Starlings, thrushes and other wildlife. The BTO Garden BirdWatch team wants to team up with people who own new and relatively new (under 30 years) houses to discover more by recording birds and other garden wildlife.

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “Many people living in new-build housing estates might think that their garden wildlife is scant or unimportant. But any birds that are attracted to new gardens are of real interest and the BTO wants to know which species move in as neighbours.”

He added: “The BTO’s Garden BirdWatch survey is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world, and also enables participants to record other garden wildlife – such as mammals, butterflies and amphibians. We need gardens of all ages in the survey, and would especially like to encourage locals who live in houses that were built in the last 30 years to get involved.”

For a free information pack about BTO Garden BirdWatch, including a copy of the BTO magazine Bird Table, please email gbw@bto.org or telephone 01842 750050.

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