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Garden feeding is ‘shaping bird communities’
Today, a broader range of species are commonly seen at feeders, with particularly marked changes in goldfinches and wood pigeons.

Forty-year study links feeding with rise in numbers and diversity 

The popular pastime of feeding garden birds appears to have led to an increase in the population of several species, and the diversity of species visiting feeders.

This is according to a new study by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Researchers analysed data from the BTO’s Garden Bird Feeding Survey, alongside information from advertising in the RSPB Birds magazine over a 40-year period, to show how the number and variety of food products has risen in this time.

Findings suggest that in the 1970s, garden bird feeders were dominated by two species, the house sparrow and starling.

Today, a broader range of species are commonly seen at feeders, with particularly marked changes in goldfinches and wood pigeons. In 1973, fewer than 20 per cent of survey participants reported these species at their feeders, but this number has now jumped to 80 per cent.

Population increases were not seen in species that do not visit garden feeders, however.

BTO said garden feeding is ‘almost certainly reshaping entire bird communities’ but the large-scale, long-term effects on community ecology are not known.

The charity added: ‘Urban areas of Britain are consequently nurturing growing populations of feeder-using bird species, while the populations of species that do not use feeders remain unchanged. Our findings illustrate the on-going, gross impact people can have on bird community structure across large spatial scales.’

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.