Britain's smallest birds have been boosted by the mild winter, the RSPB has said. 

People taking part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey, which has been going on for 41 years and is the biggest wildlife survey in the world, are likely to see coal tits, blue-tits, long-tailed tits, wrens and gold crests.

Long-tailed tits can be seen huddling together for warmth in the cold, but their populations can be decimated by harsh winters. The RSPB has seen an uptick in these this year on their sites. 

Freezing winters in the 60s and 80s devastated populations but they are quite a resilient species and seem to be bouncing back. Our gardens have become good places for small birds to survive the winter; they have over the past few decades begun to make more use of feeders.

The UK's smallest bird, the goldcrest, is also likely to see an increase this year, the bird charity said. They weigh around the same as a 20 pence piece and migrate from Scandinavia in the autumn.  The tiny birds are vulnerable to bad winters as they struggle to conserve enough energy to both scavenge for food and stay warm through the night.

Populations of small birds have entered British gardens over the past four decades as people leave food out for them.

The goldfinch, a colourful finch with a distinctive red face, is one of these. Their numbers in gardens increased by 47 per cent over the last decade. They entered the top 10 most seen garden birds for the first time in 2008 and last year climbed to number six in the Big Garden Birdwatch Results.

goldfinch on feeder

Some birds have declined in our gardens over the decades. The songthrush has lost many of the hedgerows where it likes to nest and by last year, numbers of song thrushes seen in gardens had declined by 76 per cent. House sparrows have also lost nesting sites and the decline in numbers since the birdwatch began is 56 per cent.

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