Birds 'struggle to cope' with climate change
Sparrows were one of the few birds to buck the downturn
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Monday, 26, Mar 2007 10:48
Birds are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the changing British climate, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has warned.
Milder winters and cold snaps are affecting feeding routines and altering migratory patterns.
As a result, the number of birds counted by participants in January's Big Garden Birdwatch was down, with some breeds hitting a five-year low.
The charity noted that warmer weather had meant that many birds were able to feed in the countryside and were therefore not visiting garden bird tables as frequently.
Ruth Davis, head of climate change policy at the RSPB, also said that the survey only provided a very brief snapshot, as the figures were gathered over a single weekend.
But she cautioned that birds were feeling the impact of climate change and urged everyone to think about how their lives damaged the environment.
"Although the mild winter seems to have provided more food for songbirds in the countryside this year, as changes to our climate become more extreme, many birds will struggle to cope with the altered weather patterns," Ms Davis warned.
Compared to the 2006 Big Garden Birdwatch, song thrushes and blackbirds were down by nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) and a quarter (25 per cent) respectively.
More than 400,000 people took part, counting 6.5 million birds.
Separately, the RSPB said this morning it was waiting anxiously for an announcement from the environment secretary David Miliband about funding to help farmers introduce more environmentally-sound working practices.
Mr Miliband is expected to reveal later today how much money will be paid under the agri-environment scheme to support farmers who store carbon, reduce flooding and help manage habitats.
"These schemes take green farming further than we have seen for more than 50 years and could contribute enormously to tackling climate change and helping farmland wildlife," the RSPB's Dr Sue Armstrong Brown urged.