21 December 2010

Freezing feathered friends

As the cold weather continues we are finding that birds are still having a tough time trying to cope with the temperature. We are currently on day 6 for England and Wales of cold weather and Scotland has a statutory suspension of wildfowling. The current cold weather situation can be found at our new website.

As we reported previously, birds of prey, especially Barn Owls are being found in poor condition or dead due to the lack of food. Last week we had 39 reports of dead Barn Owls, 3 Buzzard (one of which was 24 years old) and Kestrel, ET51185 which is in care at the moment due to "snow and ice" and is 12 years old. With many water bodies now frozen, wildfowl are finding it particularly difficult and recoveries included 4 Mute Swans and a Grey Heron.

We haven't seen a big increase in reports of small passerines yet, but this could be because their bodies are covered in snow. The reporting rate might increase when things defrost but we'll see. Next summers Breeding Bird Survey and CES will be interesting to analyse for sure.

Note that these are reports and cold weather might not be the exact cause of death.
Thanks to Neil Calbrade for the photo of the ringed Snow Bunting in the snow.

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