Birds prefer to fly between the gardens of leafy suburban neighbourhoods to visit 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 study also found that having roads between gardens also hindered bird's movement. Researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK, 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. They 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. "The more greenery and more vegetation there is the more easily birds can fly between gardens.
The research has shown that, for people living in cities, watching garden birds increases their connection to nature and makes them feel relaxed," said Daniel Cox, from the University of Exeter. "Understanding how birds move through urban areas will help urban planners and policy makers to make cities better places to live," Cox said. "This was the first study of this scale, and the first in urban areas that used bird feeders with scanning technology to monitor when birds carrying a small tag visited the feeders," he said. "This allowed us to track movement of blue tits and great tits at an individual level. Neighbourhoods with more connected vegetation and trees allowed birds to move between garden bird feeders more frequently," he added. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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