420,000 people took part in the RSPB’s annual survey of garden birds, counting a total of 6.7 million birds.


The citizen scientists reported an increase in sightings of smaller birds, including goldfinches, long-tailed tits and coal tits.

“To have hundreds of thousands of people spend an hour watching the wildlife in their garden isn’t only great to see, but it also helps us build up a picture of how our garden birds are doing, which is really helpful,” says Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist.

The surge of these garden bird species is thought to be due to favourable conditions during the 2017 breeding season, and mild autumn and winter weather.

“Last summer was a really good year for many breeding birds, with warm weather creating great conditions for many smaller birds to raise their young to adulthood,” says Hayhow.

However, some species were seen in lower numbers, such as blackbirds, robins and wrens, which did not have a good breeding season in 2017.

The most commonly recorded species in the Big Garden Birdwatch was the house sparrow, with over one million sightings, followed by the starling and the blue tit.

House sparrow Passer domesticus, adult male sitting on branch, Dorset, August
The house sparrow was the most commonly recorded species. © Ben Andrew/RSPB

The top 10 birds in 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch:

Rank / Species / Change 2017-2018*

  1. House sparrow: -0.5
  2. Starling: -4
  3. Blue tit: +5
  4. Blackbird: -18
  5. Woodpigeon: -9.3
  6. Goldfinch: +11
  7. Great tit: +4
  8. Robin: -12
  9. Long-tailed tit: +16
  10. Chaffinch: +4

* Average per garden percentage change 2017-2018


Main image: There was an eleven per cent increase in goldfinch sightings from 2017. © John Bridges/RSPB


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator