Tiny garden bird stages fightback

One of Britain's most distinctive garden birds is responding to the challenges of climate change by enjoying a bumper year, according to Norfolk-based scientists.

One of Britain's most distinctive garden birds is responding to the challenges of climate change by enjoying a bumper year, according to Norfolk-based scientists.

Officials from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said they had received reports of a huge increase in the numbers of long-tailed tits, despite a bad breeding season for other garden species.

Latest figures from the organisation's Garden BirdWatch survey revealed that 43pc of participants received visits from the endearing birds during the last week of 2008, compared to just 25pc at the same time in 2007

Staff at the Thetford-based research centre said that long-tailed tit populations had been boosted by a run of mild winters and a productive breeding season. Research had also revealed that the garden bird had responded to climatic changes by laying eggs earlier and avoiding the damaging effects of early summer rains.


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It comes after the summers of 2007 and 2008 were wash-outs for many garden birds, with the blackbird, great tit, and song thrush showing productivity rates of less than 70pc and the robin, garden warbler, and great tit had their worst recorded breeding season ever last year.

Amy Lewis, Garden BirdWatch development officer, said: “Long-tailed tits are remarkable birds and it's great to see them doing so well. While it's nice to have some good news for a change the recent snow and ice may have hit them hard. We need people to join in and help us monitor their numbers this spring so that we can chart how they've fared. Garden BirdWatch is a nationally important project and is easy and fun to do.”

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