Birds need feeders in cold spring

This video is called British Garden Birds Feeding.

From Wildlife Extra:

Cold weather means birds need feeding

Huge influx of birds into gardens

March 2013. Thousands of birds are homing in on garden feeding stations as Arctic conditions persist. Latest results from the year-round British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch survey show a mass influx of many familiar species as they struggle to survive.

The current cold snap could not have come at a worse time for birds. Late winter is a period when natural foods are scarce. Seeds and fruits that were abundant during autumn have been depleted over winter, while many insects – which are cold-blooded and, therefore, are slower to emerge when the weather is cold – are yet to appear this year.

Mating time

The double-whammy is that birds are not just thinking about survival at the moment – they are also thinking about sex. Males want to be devoting their time to singing in order to claim and defend their territories, while females want to be feeding up to gain enough nutrients to lay their eggs. Amidst the unseasonably cold conditions, many birds are being forced to postpone nesting activities and, instead, to focus on survival.

Bird feeding is vital

Thankfully – as is so often the case – food provided by householders is providing vital support. Latest results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show that visitors ranging from the tiny Long-tailed Tit to the portly Woodpigeon have been spotted much more often in gardens over the past fortnight compared with the previous three-year average.


% increase in BTO Garden BirdWatch counts: March 2013 vs. March 2010–12 average

Siskin 187% higher

Woodpigeon 53%

Long-tailed Tit 45%

Fieldfare 42%

Redwing 41%

Chaffinch 39%

Jackdaw 29%

Blackbird 28%

Goldfinch 24%

Robin 12%

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden Ecology Team, commented: “Mid to late March is a terrible time of year for such testing weather conditions to set in. A few months ago birds were essentially focused solely on survival but now they are also trying to get on with nesting, with some still needing to migrate to their breeding grounds.”

BTO Garden BirdWatch survey

He added: “Thanks to citizen scientists who take part in the weekly BTO Garden BirdWatch survey, we have been able to chart this critical period in unique detail. The most remarkable increase has been in the Siskin, which visited almost two in five gardens last week – its highest reporting rate since 1995. Its cousin, the Goldfinch, has also been seen in large numbers, delighting over two thirds of householders last week.”

Top tips for feeding birds in cold weather:

Grind up peanuts and scatter these on bird tables and on the ground.
Provide sunflower hearts in tube feeders and on the ground.
Finely grate cheese, beef or vegetable suet on bird tables and the ground. You could also provide a few bread or cake crumbs.
Put out windfall or fresh fruit on the ground for Robins and thrushes.
Mealworms can be a real hit for invertebrate-eating birds such as Blackbirds and Wrens.
Don’t forget that birds also need clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing.

March 2013. It’s feared that the on-going bad weather may be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of seabirds of the UK’s east coast. RSPB Scotland has received many reports of puffins, as well as razorbills and guillemots, washing up on beaches from Aberdeenshire and Angus to Northumberland: here.

8 thoughts on “Birds need feeders in cold spring

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  4. Q&A: Europe’s freezing Easter and global warming

    Associated Press

    Friday, March 29th, 2013

    STOCKHOLM— Is it Easter or Christmas? Many Europeans would be forgiven for being confused by winter’s icy grip on lands that should be thawing in springtime temperatures by now.

    Britain is on track for the coldest March since 1962, according to national weather service the Met Office, which also says daily low temperatures in London are going to remain below freezing through the Easter holiday. The mean temperature in Britain from March 1-26 was 2.5 C (36.5 F) — three degrees below the long-term average.

    In Berlin, Good Friday saw a new round of snowfall and temperatures just above freezing. The city’s popular lakeside beach opened for the season as planned, though it wasn’t exactly beach weather. Some visitors built a snowman and few ventured into the freezing water.

    What’s going on?

    As always when you talk about weather, natural variability is a big factor. But an increasing body of research suggests that cold spells like the one that has lingered in northern and central Europe for much of March could become more common as a result of global warming melting the Arctic ice cap.

    Q: Why is it so cold in much of Europe right now?

    A: Normally, European winters are kept relatively mild by wet, westerly winds from the Atlantic. But in March, the wind has been blowing mostly from the northeast, bringing freezing Arctic air down over much of Europe.

    Q: So why are the winds coming from the northeast?

    A: The winds are driven by atmospheric circulation patterns which in turn are affected by differences in air pressure between northern and southern latitudes. For much of March this circulation has been in a negative state, meaning the pressure difference is small. That weakens the westerly Atlantic winds and paves the way for cold air to sweep down over Europe from the Arctic and Siberia.

    Q: What does that have to do with Arctic sea ice?

    A: Global warming is melting the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean. Last September, it reached its lowest extent on record. Climate models show that the loss of sea ice — which acts as a lid on the ocean, preventing it from giving off heat — triggers feedback mechanisms that shake up the climate system further. A series of studies in recent years have shown that one such effect could be changes in atmospheric circulation, resulting in more frequent cold snaps in Europe.

    Q: How would melting Arctic ice lead to cold snaps?

    A: The theory is the loss of sea ice means more heat is released from the open ocean, warming the layer of polar air over the water. That reduces the temperature and air pressure differentials with more southern latitudes, increasing the likelihood of a negative state in the atmospheric circulation. Experts stress that winter weather is affected by many other factors, but several studies have shown the Arctic melt loads the dice in favor of colder and snowier winters in Europe. One study by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany showed European cold snaps could become three times more likely because of shrinking sea ice.

    Q: What’s the impact on the jet stream?

    A: Some studies suggest that the shrinking sea ice also shifts the polar jet stream, a high-altitude air current that flows from west to east. Bigger waves in the meandering jet stream allow frigid air to spill southward from the Arctic, they say. Other climate experts are uncertain about this effect, saying more research is needed.


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