What's on top of your bird table?

The long-tailed tit is becoming a more frequent visitor to UK gardens, making it into the top 10 of birds spotted in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch for the first time this year.

The long-tailed tit is becoming a more frequent visitor to UK gardens, making it into the top 10 of birds spotted in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch for the first time this year.

The conservation charity put the bird's success down to a series of mild winters, which made it easier for it to survive, and on its adapting to visit garden feeders in recent years.

The 30th Big Garden Birdwatch, which took place in January, recorded almost twice as many long-tailed tits compared to last year, pushing the bird into 8th place, up from 14th in 2008.

More than half a million people took part in the annual survey, which saw numbers of all but one of the top 10 birds increase slightly on last year's figures.


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The starling still occupied top spot, with the highest average number of birds spotted in gardens, while the sparrow, despite a slight drop in numbers, stayed in second place.

Small insect-eating birds like the long-tailed tit are particularly susceptible to snowy and frosty conditions which make their food hard to come by, so warmer winters improve their survival rates.

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According to the RSPB, the long-tailed tit has also adapted to feeding on seeds and peanuts at bird tables and from feeders in the last 10 years.

Big Garden Birdwatch co-ordinator Sarah Kelly said: "The significant increase in long-tailed tit sightings highlights the impact that feeding can have on some species.

"They have only started coming to feeders fairly recently, and more people are seeing them as this behaviour develops."

And she said: "This year's survey took place on a chilly weekend and garden birds are heavily reliant on the extra food we put out.

"It seems we were suitably paid back for our efforts and we need to continue - the changeable weather means they still need our help.'

1 Starling

2 House Sparrow

3 Blackbird

4 Collared Dove

5 Woodpigeon

6 Blue Tit

7 Chaffinch

8 Long-tailed tit

9 Goldfinch

10 Great Tit

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