Date: November 23, 2016
Source: University of Exeter
Birds prefer to fly between the gardens of leafy suburban neighbourhoods to visit bird feeders than city terraces or new-build estates, a ground-breaking study tracking the behaviour of hundreds of garden birds has found.
A year-long study into the behaviour of over 450 blue tits and great tits found that a suburban neighbourhood with trees, shrubs and hedges between properties attract far more birds to their feeders than a Victorian urban terrace or manicured, modern housing estate.
The research led by Dr Daniel Cox, an ecologist from the University of Exeter, found that garden birds moved more frequently between gardens that have trees and shrubs, giving them a safe route to hop and fly from garden to garden and bird feeder to bird feeder.
But they were less likely to move between homes with paved gardens, or housing estates with manicured lawns but fewer trees or shrubs. Having roads between gardens also hindered movement, the research the Movement of feeder-using songbirds: the influence of urban features, published in the Journal Scientific reports, found.
The academics attached tiny tags with a unique electronic number onto the legs of 452 blue tits and great tits, two species which typically visit garden bird feeders. They then attached scanners to 51 bird feeders, filled with bird seed, in the gardens of urban terraced homes, a green suburban neighbourhood and a new-build estate.
The academics found individual birds in green neighbourhoods flew between twice as many gardens as birds in terraced streets. They also tended to visit bird feeders in a 'green' neighbourhood more often. Birds tended not to fly into rows of gardens in terraced streets that had little vegetation and were paved.