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It’s Official, Brits Spend £200 Million a Year on Wild Bird Food!

The British Trust for Ornithology estimates we now spend £200 million on feeding the birds in our gardens each year. For many years the importance of gardens for wildlife was overlooked and gardens were regarded as having little conservation value. With the intensification of agriculture, urbanisation and pollution all having a profound effect on the countryside, the value of gardens for wildlife has been recognised. The bird food suppliers have also developed a wide range of bird food for different birds; gone are the ‘one seed mix feeds all’ days. This has helped birds enormously.

As recently as 1987 only 18 species of birds had been recorded feeding on supplementary food in our gardens, the species count now stands at 130 (results are taken from the BTO Garden Bird Feeding Survey).

Paul Stancliffe, of the British Trust For Ornithology, said, “This is not just an isolated few putting out kitchen scraps for the birds in their gardens, this is a lot of people putting out a lot of food and, more importantly, the right sorts of food. Not only does it bring us closer to wildlife, it really is making a difference to our wild birds.” The goldfinch was in long-term decline but with the introduction of sunflower hearts and nyjer seed to bird feeders, the population has been steadily increasing. In 2006 it was recorded feeding in the highest number of gardens ever. Farmland birds, such as reed buntings and yellowhammers, which have been hit by the change to autumn sowing, removing winter stubbles and a valuable source of seeds, move into gardens in the winter and early spring to take advantage of garden bird feeders. Not only is feeding the birds big business, it is proving to be important for the birds too.

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