Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Feed The Birds: Winter Feeding Makes For Better Breeding

Date:
February 6, 2008
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Keep feeding the birds over winter. A new study shows for the first time that the extra food we provide garden birds in winter makes for a more successful breeding season. This research shows, for the first time, that birds will continue to benefit from winter feeding well into the breeding season in the spring.

Blue tits at a bird feeder in spring. Extra food we provide to garden birds in winter makes for a more successful breeding season in the spring.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andrew Howe

Keep feeding the birds over winter: that's the message from research by the University of Exeter and Queen's University Belfast. The study shows for the first time that the extra food we provide garden birds in winter makes for a more successful breeding season in the spring.

By providing some birds with extra food, such as peanuts, and leaving others to fend for themselves, the team was able to compare productivity between the two groups. Those that were given extra food laid eggs earlier and, although they produced the same number of chicks, an average of one more per clutch successfully fledged. Although it was well known that garden feeding helps many birds survive the winter, this is the first time that the benefits to spring breeding and productivity have been shown.

Dr Stuart Bearhop of the University of Exeter, corresponding author on the paper, said: "Our study shows that birds that receive extra food over winter lay their eggs earlier and produce more fledglings. While this research shows how the extra food we provide in winter helps the birds that take it, it is still unclear whether this has a knock-on effect on other species. This is something we are keen to investigate, but in the meantime I will certainly be putting out food for garden birds for the rest of the winter."

US and UK households provide over 500,000 tonnes of food for garden birds each year. Despite this, there is a debate on whether we should continue feeding birds in the spring, when natural food sources become more readily available. This research shows, for the first time, that birds will continue to benefit from winter feeding well into the breeding season, which starts in April for most song birds in the UK.

Dr Dan Chamberlain of the British Trust for Ornithology, a collaborator on the project, adds "These results demonstrate that feeding birds in gardens over winter can be vital to their breeding success. It is highly likely that the benefits of extra food continue year-round, so don't just stock your bird feeders in winter if you want to do the best for the birds in your garden".

Now that the research team has shown the long-lasting benefits of supplementary food for garden birds, they are keen to investigate exactly what is happening in terms of nutrition. Dr Stuart Bearhop of the University of Exeter continued: "The extra food we put out for birds contains fat, protein and carbohydrates, which may make the female bird stronger and more able to produce eggs. Foods like peanuts and bird seed also include vitamins and minerals, which can also produce healthier eggs and chicks, and we currently have a research project looking at the role of energy versus vitamins in explaining these effects."

This research was published February 6, 2008 in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

The study was carried out by the University of Exeter, Queen's University Belfast, Central Science Laboratory, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Birmingham. Food and nestboxes were provided by Gardman Ltd.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Feed The Birds: Winter Feeding Makes For Better Breeding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205191210.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2008, February 6). Feed The Birds: Winter Feeding Makes For Better Breeding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205191210.htm
University of Exeter. "Feed The Birds: Winter Feeding Makes For Better Breeding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205191210.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins