Barn Owl
Blackbird
Blackcap
Black-headed Gull
Black Redstart
Blue Tit
Brambling
Bullfinch
Buzzard
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Chiffchaff
Coal Tit
Collared Dove
Common Gull
Coot
Crested Tit
Crossbill
Cuckoo
Dunnock
Feral Pigeon
Fieldfare
Garden Warbler
Goldcrest
Goldfinch
Goshawk
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Greenfinch
Green Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Grey Partridge
Grey Wagtail
Hawfinch
Herring Gull
Hoopoe
House Martin
House Sparrow
Jackdaw
Jay
Kestrel
Kingfisher
Lapwing
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Whitethroat
Linnet
Little Owl
Long-eared Owl
Long-tailed Tit
Magpie
Mallard
Marsh Tit
Meadow Pipit
Mistle Thrush
Moorhen
Nightingale
Nuthatch
Peregrine
Pheasant
Pied Flycatcher
Pied Wagtail
Quail
Raven
Red Kite
Red-legged Partridge
Redpoll
Redstart
Redwing
Reed Bunting
Ring-necked Parakeet
Robin
Rook
Sand Martin
Serin
Short-eared Owl
Siskin
Skylark
Song Thrush
Sparrowhawk
Spotted Flycatcher
Starling
Stock Dove
Stonechat
Swallow
Swift
Tawny Owl
Treecreeper
Tree Sparrow
Turtle Dove
Waxwing
Whinchat
Whitethroat
Willow Tit
Willow Warbler
Wood Pigeon
Wren
Yellow Wagtail
Yellowhammer

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Early Bird Survey - 2006

Observers were asked to get into their observation position before "first light" (i.e. when it was light enough to be able to see the birds, usually about an hour before sunrise) on one morning between Saturday 16th and Sunday 24th December 2006 inclusive, and then record the order and time of arrival of individual species at their garden feeding stations.

Of the 21 submissions received, 16 were from Discussion Board members (but 2 were invalid) and the rest were from visitors. The invalid surveys were either duplicate submissions or there was something amiss with the survey details.

Coverage

The regions (the Counties and Districts included within the Regions are detailed here) that provided the most submissions were East Midlands, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber. The Channel Islands, East of England, Eire, Isle of Man, London, Northern Ireland, South Scotland and Wales provided none.

Most of the gardens (84%) were in suburban areas.

Habitat Definitions

Regional Coverage
Habitat

Early Bird

This year your observations show that the Blackbird was still the most common early bird, arriving within 18 minutes of first light in 16 gardens. The next most common early bird was the Robin, followed jointly by Blue Tit, Dunnock, Starling and Carrion Crow.

Interestingly, the Carrion Crow was on average the earliest bird, but was recorded in two gardens only.

First Bird

Species Average Time After First Light
Carrion Crow 6 minutes
Blackbird 18 minutes
Dunnock 34 minutes
Robin 36 minutes
Blue Tit 40 minutes
Starling 60 minutes

 

Arrival Times

The average time after first light that each species arrived at feeding stations is given in the table below.

As last year, Blackbird does not appear at the top of the list because they were later at arriving than Carrion Crows in gardens where they were not the first bird to arrive.

Species This Year Last Year
Carrion Crow 6 minutes 34 minutes
Blackbird 18 minutes 30 minutes
Dunnock 34 minutes 26 minutes
Robin 36 minutes 28 minutes
Song Thrush 36 minutes 54 minutes
Blue Tit 40 minutes 23 minutes
Chaffinch 44 minutes 45 minutes
House Sparrow 47 minutes 37 minutes
Great Tit 49 minutes 33 minutes
Goldfinch 53 minutes 47 minutes
Collared Dove 55 minutes 57 minutes
Wren 58 minutes 41 minutes
Greenfinch 58 minutes 46 minutes
Starling 60 minutes 36 minutes
Coal Tit 62 minutes 42 minutes
Wood Pigeon 62 minutes 57 minutes
Gt. Sp. W'pecker 67 minutes -
Magpie 69 minutes 39 minutes
Bullfinch 96 minutes -
Long-tailed Tit 102 minutes -

Other species that were observed arriving at the feeding stations included: Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Jackdaw, Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk and Feral Pigeon. The arrival times for these have not been included in the analyses because they were reported in only one garden.

Conclusions

Generally, Blackbirds and Robins are among the early birds, the same result as in past years years, but Dunnocks were on average earlier than Robins this year. However, Carrion Crows were the earliest birds reported, albeit only in two gardens.

While there is not much difference in the arrival times of the earlier birds this year compared with previous years, the later arriving smaller birds, such as Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Great Tits, Wrens, etc., seemed to arrive quite a bit later, which may support the hypotheses that with:

  1. ample natural foods available these birds are less dependent on our gardens
  2. the milder weather they do not have to start feeding as early

Unfortunately, this is only a tentative observation owing to the small number of records on which the results are based.

A very big thank you to everyone who submitted their observations to the survey.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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