RSPB says mild winter boosts Scottish garden bird sightings

Blue Tit
Image caption The charity said that mild winter weather had led to the average number of birds recorded increasing

The RSPB has announced the results of its annual survey of garden birds in Scotland.

The charity said mild winter weather led to the average number of birds recorded by the public increasing by 17.9%.

House sparrows were the most numerous species and the number of long-tailed tits saw the biggest surge - rising by 166%.

Other small garden birds such as coal tits and great tits had also done well.

More than 36,000 people across Scotland took part in the 2016 Birdwatch, counting a total of 626,335 birds during the last weekend of January.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The long-tailed tit saw the biggest surge in numbers
Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The most numerous species is the house sparrow

The results showed that over a third of gardens of those taking part (34%) recorded a long-tailed tit - up from 12.9% of gardens in 2015.

Keith Morton, the species policy officer at RSPB Scotland, said: "Different birds are affected in different ways by the weather and this winter has seen milder temperatures and some very wet periods in parts of Scotland, although several areas did have a lot of snow fall over the bird watch weekend.

"The increase in smaller garden birds recorded, such as long-tailed tits, suggests that the lack of sustained cold weather helps these species survive in far greater numbers over the winter months.

"The food these birds rely on, such as insects, would have been easier to find, helping to boost the numbers of them spotted."

About 7,500 schoolchildren also took part in a parallel survey.

They spent an hour outdoors counting wild birds.

Results revealed blackbirds are still most common playground visitor, with 86% of the schools which took part spotting at least one.

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