Freezing temperatures threaten UK coastal birds

Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:25am EST
 
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By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Birds in Britain's coastal regions are the latest to be threatened by freezing weather, the Royal Society Protection of Birds (RSPB) said this week.

The charity has called on walkers, anglers and birdwatchers to reduce the disturbance they may cause to flocks of birds when enjoying the countryside over the Christmas holidays after freezing temperatures and snowfall in December.

"During freezing conditions disturbance forces the birds to squander their precious energy reserves by taking flight when they need to spend as much time as possible feeding or quietly roosting," said Chris Cockburn, RSPB warden at Langstone Harbor in the southern English county of Hampshire.

"We hope people out and about in the countryside will heed our advice, allowing the thousands of birds which visit our coast and wetlands during the winter to stand a better chance of survival."

Migratory birds, such as Brent geese, wigeons - a species of duck - and wading birds named dunlins are among the species affected by the cold weather.

The birds nest in Arctic regions and northern and eastern Europe during the summer months but come to Britain in winter to escape the harsher weather in these regions.

However, the birds - especially coastal birds which only feed at low tide - are experiencing difficulty finding food, the statement said.

Freezing temperatures are also causing a change in behavior as birds become more reluctant to fly away when approached, according to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.   Continued...