Scottish blue tits mostly survive on food from garden bird feeders

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blue tit

A blue tit on a garden feeder in Scotland

Gary Cook/Alamy

Garden bird feed is the most common food source found in a sample of blue tit faeces collected across Scotland.

Bird feeding is a common pastime and often encouraged by many conservation organisations. Jack Shutt at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and his colleagues have investigated how popular garden bird feed is among blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) in Scotland.

They analysed 793 samples of blue tit faeces, collected from nest boxes at 39 points along a 220-kilometre-long study area running from Edinburgh to Dornoch, a town in the Highlands of Scotland. Using DNA analysis, they first confirmed the faeces were from blue tits and then worked out what the birds were eating.

They found 53 per cent of the samples contained DNA…

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