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Garden Long-tailed Tits

…buck the trend

It’s always a delight to have Long-tailed Tits in the garden. These tiny birds can vary in number quite a lot so it’s a relief that British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatchers have been seeing them in the highest percentages for two years! Will they continue to entertain us, or will garden numbers drop as they start to settle down on eggs in time for Easter?

Long-tailed Tit numbers can suddenly drop after a cold winter, or an unsuccessful breeding year. The numbers of BTO Garden BirdWatch gardens reporting Long-tailed Tits in 2014 was much lower than the five year average, so it is good news that preliminary results show them being reported from over 10% more gardens this year.

At this time of year, Long-tailed Tits start to move out of gardens. They have been carefully constructing their elaborate nests since late February, and may use gardens to find feathers with which to line them (up to 2,600 can be used!), or to take advantage of fats, small seeds and peanuts.

Clare Simm, from the Garden Ecology team, commented, "BTO monitoring surveys have found that in the last few years, the Long-tailed Tit population has started to decline in the wider countryside. However, with our preliminary data from 2015 showing that they are doing better than in 2014, they still seem to be doing well in gardens. If you watch your garden birds for a few minutes each week, you can help us learn whether their good fortunes will continue or not."

Will Long-tailed Tits continue to do well in gardens, or will numbers start to match those seen in the wider countryside? Your help is needed to find out.

To find out more information and for a free BTO Garden BirdWatch information pack, which includes a copy of our quarterly magazine, please contact gbw@bto.org or telephone 01842 750050, write to Garden BirdWatch, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, or visit the BTO Website

Clare Simm - BTO

1st April 2015