Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Flight of Scotland's garden birds

The chaffinch is Scotland's most common garden bird

Cold spells during the winter may have affected the number of birds visiting Scotland's gardens.

An annual poll by the RSPB suggested the type of birds had remained largely the same, but numbers were down.

The chaffinch remained the most-spotted bird this year, with an average of 4.84 per garden - but that figure was down from 5.43 in 2008.

One surprise in the charity's Big Garden Birdwatch was that the coal tit jumped from 13th to sixth place.

RSPB Scotland said a record number of Scots had taken part in this year's birdwatch, with 30,000 people involved in the event on 24 and 25 January.

1. Chaffinch (4.84*)
2. House sparrow (4.65)
3. Starling (3.41)
4. Blackbird (2.9)
5. Blue tit (2.78)
6. Coal tit (1.67)
7. Great tit (1.53)
8. Robin (1.46)
9. Greenfinch (1.33)
10. Dunnock (1.17)
*Figure in brackets = average per garden. Source: RSPB

RSPB Scotland's Jonathan Osborne said: "The cold winter may have affected our most common birds, which find their food supply becomes a little more scarce in such conditions.

"Coal tits may have fared relatively better due to their habit of hoarding food in caches to see them through the leaner times, before visiting garden feeders for more.

"This shows just how important it is for us to keep feeding our garden birds, as it provides an absolutely vital lifeline that helps them through periods of extreme weather that can exact a heavy toll on their numbers."

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