The failures of the last 48 years have shown shocking declines in numbers. These are surprisingly familiar garden birds such as the House Sparrow, Lesser Redpoll and the Mistle Thrush. However sadly the most worrying decline is of the Greenfinch, historically a regular garden visitor now classed as ‘red-listed' meaning 'endangered'.
One of the main causes to this decline is the severe outbreak of avian trichomonosis, a disease that affects the upper digestive tract, which first emerged in British finches during 2005. Before this outbreak numbers of finches were very stable. This goes to show the importance of bird feeder hygiene and the impact we have beyond our backyard.
Successful species such as the Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Long-tailed Tits and Goldfinches, are showing positive growth in numbers. Food for thought; is that the majority of bird species showing population growth are ones that rely heavily on the human intervention of bird feeding. This is either an sign that these species are more adaptable in finding new food sources located in bird feeders or the range of food on offer is more suitable.
Birds have a large part to play in a garden ecosystems. By adding bird boxes and feeding your birds all year round you can make sure that their numbers thrive. Locate your bird box at a high sheltered area of your garden away from predators and direct sunlight. During winter months and the breeding season, provide protein-rich food, such as fat balls, dried mealworms and seeds mixes.