Do you watch BBC SpringWatch? If you do, you’ve probably noticed that birds hedge their bets on whether to breed early and risk a cold spring, or leave it to later in the season.
Over the years, garden birds have begun breeding earlier and earlier in response to the mild weather we normally enjoy from March onwards. Gone are the days when it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see blankets of snow several feet deep, all the way from November to March.
The latest information gathered in the Nest Record Scheme, which is run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), shows that a significant number of species are breeding earlier than they did when records began in the 1960s. This is thought to be caused by climate change as temperatures have increased over time.
Regardless of the cause, there is strong evidence to suggest that over 35 species of bird are laying their eggs between one and 27 days earlier, on average, than they did in the mid-1960s.
The garden bird species’ reacting best to the changes in temperature are the Greenfinch, Robin, Blue Tit and Magpie. However, depending on the year, this may or may not be a good evolutional tactic.
If birds lay early and it’s a particularly cold spring, there’s a chance that natural food sources will be thin on the ground, causing a food shortage. This can have a big impact on population levels at this critical time, when young chicks are being reared.
How can you help?
It’s a good idea to leave some food out for birds, regardless of the time of year. It provides them with a guaranteed meal, which can very often mean the difference between a population boost or a further decline.
See our full range of Gardman Bird Care products and find your nearest stockist here.