SCOTS have been warned to look out for a Scandinavian invasion of their gardens this weekend.
Birds which migrate from Scandinavia to Scotland during winter may be driven out of the countryside and into gardens in a desperate search for food.
RSPB Scotland says the snow covering much of the country means the normally shy seasonal visitors will struggle to find food.
And that means rarely-glimpsed, colourful species such as redwing, fieldfare, brambling and waxwings could be paying town and city gardens a visit.
The birds make journeys of around 700 miles as temperatures in parts of Scandinavia drop as low as -35c.
But this winter the birds have flown straight into Scotland’s cold snap.
Keith Morton of RSPB Scotland said: “Sudden changes in the weather can be difficult for birds- particularly as until now it has been fairly mild.
“Species such as fieldfares, brambling and redwing arrive in Scotland from Scandinavia in the winter and are often spotted feeding on berries, so to hear that they appear to be struggling to find food naturally is concerning.
“Fortunately, these usually shy birds will use gardens in bad weather and make use of the extra help provided my humans to get enough energy to endure the freezing winter nights.
“It will be interesting to see if those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch notice an increase in these colourful birds.”
This year’s count takes place tomorrow and Sunday with participants being asked to spend an hour recording the birds that visit their gardens or local parks.
A spokeswoman for RSPB added: “We expect to see a larger number this year in garden because of the weather.
“We’ve had a few calls already from people asking what the birds are in their gardens that they don’t recognise. Most of these are the waxwings. They are really colourful and have a sort of mohawk on their head.
“The birds tend to come over in larger numbers when the berry crop in Scandinavia is poor and they try to find food here.
“They normally go into the countryside for berries but because of the recent bad weather, they are having to search in people’s gardens.
“A lot of the country this year is covered in snow and ice so people can help by putting out food.
“People can leave out bruised fruit for the birds, that’s really good for them and will be easy for them to find. This will help them a lot.”
The annual count began in 1979 and has since provided valuable information highlighting any concerns in population or worrying trends.
Over 53,000 Scots took part in last year’s study making it the biggest of its kind in the world.