Bird feeding proves recession-proof


While people are tightening their belts, it seems that garden birds are not having to do the same, with sales of bird food increasing amid the cold conditions. When a recent poll posed the question: "Are you cutting back on feeding the birds this winter as a result of pressure on household budgets?", it emerged that birds bring enjoyment that people cannot live without. Two thirds of respondents to the Omnibus poll fed birds in their garden and, of these, 88% said that they would not be making any cutbacks. Spending commitments of older (66+) garden bird enthusiasts were particularly robust. The recent cold weather has also seen sales of bird food spike, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) understands. Compared with mid-January, total sales at Ernest Charles, for example, rose more than 70% over the past week. Latest figures from Gardman, one or Britain's largest bird food suppliers, also show a sharp rise in bird food sales.

Chaffinch, Bradley Wood, Lincolnshire (Photo: Gordon Bowes)

This increased spending has followed a huge influx of birds into gardens, charted through the simple weekly observations of BTO Garden BirdWatch survey participants. Big rises in numbers of Fieldfares, Redwings, Blackbirds, Wrens, Bramblings and many other species have been noted over recent days. Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: "These resilient sales figures show the deep affection that people have for garden birds. This is why, as a country, we spend hundreds of millions of pounds on bird foods and feeders every year. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, give chocolates to your loved one, sunflower hearts to your birds, and your precious sightings to BTO Garden BirdWatch."

For a free BTO Garden BirdWatch enquiry pack including a copy of our fantastic quarterly magazine, email gbw@bto.org, tel. 01842 750050, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

Written by: BTO