Population of blue tits in the UK could have fallen by up to half a million, scientists believe

The UK could have lost half a million of its blue tit population, scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) believe.

According to figures from the charity’s weekly Garden Birdwatch survey, the number of blue tits recorded has dropped by five per cent with only 80 per cent of gardens reporting sightings of the bird. They say the warm spring could have led to the decline.

This could mean the UK is entering winter with over half a million fewer blue tits than usual.

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BTO scientists said it was thought this year’s spring, with the fifth-warmest April in over 100 years, meant invertebrates, including butterflies and moths, got off to an early start.

A fledgling blue tit

“Caterpillars are an important food for blue tit nestlings, but in warm springs caterpillars develop early, and there are fewer available during the main blue tit nesting season, often leading to reduced survival of nestlings and smaller populations overall,” a spokesman said.

However the gap had closed “somewhat” by October, although BTO reports the colourful little birds are still being recorded in fewer gardens than is typical for autumn.

Robert Jaques, from BTO Garden BirdWatch said: “Thanks to the records submitted by our dedicated Garden BirdWatchers, we are able to see the impacts of weather events on garden birds.

We will be watching with a keen eye over the coming months to see how blue tits, and other garden species, handle the next winter.” Around 20,000 people take part in Garden BirdWatch.

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