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End of project review

This year forty of the 120 school webcam bird boxes had nests. In 2016 thirty-seven of the sixty one bird boxes had nests so why have numbers fallen this year?

Decline in Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit numbers

Bird Watchers and Wildlife Experts tell us that the very wet spring we had in 2016 resulted in there being fewer caterpillars around in April, May and June last year for adult birds to feed their young chicks. Starved of the basic food a young chicks need many chicks failed to grow and reach adulthood.

In December 2016 reports started to appear of fewer Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits visiting gardens and bird feeders to collect insects, seeds and nuts. The reports were supported by the results from the January 2017 RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch which showed a decline of over 10% in Blue Tit and Great Tit sightings.

This spring food for Blue Tits has again been in short supply. In particular there has again been a shortage of caterpillars and small insects for adult Tits to eat. Some schools reported that the adult birds in their boxes looked very thin and under nourished. This observation has led some bird experts to believe that some Tits who survived the winter months may have been too weak to breed this spring.

What can we do to support our bird population?

Bird numbers change from one year to the next. Some birds enjoy wet weather while others prefer dry, warm conditions in the spring and summer months. Numbers of adult Tits have fallen since 2016 but the number of Goldfinches, Robins and Blackbirds during this period increased. Why the difference? The answer is most likely linked to what each bird eats. Tits eat a lot of small insects while these birds eat more berries, nuts and seeds which have not been in short supply over the past year.

To help our bird population is an all year challenge. So why not put out every day fresh food and water in your school grounds or garden. Blue Tits love mealworms and will when they are very hungry visit Bird Feeders to eat suet balls and cakes.

Most bird food is not expensive to buy (a bag of dried mealworms will cost you on average £1) and making suet balls and cake is fun. So make a commitment today and join with the many of us who put out bird food and water every day for the birds around us to eat and enjoy. If we all work together we can make a difference and hopefully if the weather improves over the next 6 to 9 months we will see more nesting birds in our Bird Boxes in spring 2018!

Keep up the good work!

The Bird Box Team

Schools' Bird Box Project 2017 Project Report