Bitter winter weather takes its toll of birds

This winter will take its toll on Britain's bird numbers. Ice and snow, biting north-easterly winds, water and earth frozen hard as iron, as one Victorian poet put it, and it's not hard to see why certain species are disappearing from our gardens.

We can help by putting out food regularly – meal worms, seed, proprietary bird food, even bread if you must, but no matter how much we humans do to try to stem the fall in numbers, the likes of the common house sparrow are becoming a vanishing breed.

Just how hard their numbers have been hit in recent years is difficult to tell, but later this month everyone has the chance to try to put the record straight. On January 29-30, the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch will ask for the nation's help in counting garden birds.

All you are asked to do is spend an hour recording the avian visitors which land in your garden (schools can also take part) and then letting the RSPB know the results. Then it's up to the conservation charity to work out what's happening to the nation's birds.

If you fancy taking part, you can send your bird count to or get hold of a results form and post it off before February 18.

YP MAG 1/1/11