The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch has now been running for 40 years and has been crucial for monitoring the health of bird life across the country.
This year, almost half a million people across the country took part counting an impressive 7.5 million birds over the last weekend in January.
House sparrow (below) remains at the top of the rankings with almost 1.2 million sightings with starling holding on to the second place and blue tit climbing to round off the top three.
However, other garden birds have not fared as well with numbers of long tailed tits and wrens down by 27 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, from 2018.
Populations of both species may have been affected by last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ but it’s too early to say if this is a one year blip or the beginning of a trend.
“The survey has shown the increasing good fortunes of birds such as the goldfinch (above) and wood pigeon and the alarming declines of the house sparrow and starling,” says RSPB conservation scientist Daniel Hayhow.
“While the overall decline in house sparrow numbers, reported by participants, since the Big Garden Birdwatch began is 56 per cent (1979–2019), in the most recent decade (2009-2019) numbers appear to have increased by ten per cent. Giving us hope that at least a partial recovery may be happening.”
The 2019 survey also saw a rise in the number of redwing and fieldfare sightings.
Over its four decades Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the changing prospects of birds across the country.
For example, between 1979 and 2009 the bird watch emphasised a sharp decline in the number of song thrush (below).
Top 10 birds in 2019 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Species: Average per garden / % of gardens species recorded in 2019
- House sparrow: 4.4 / 63%
- Starling: 3.1 / 41%
- Blue tit: 2.6 / 77%
- Blackbird: 2.3 / 87%
- Woodpigeon: 2.3 / 77%
- Goldfinch: 1.8 / 34%
- Great tit: 1.5 / 58%
- Robin: 1.3 / 82%
- Chaffinch: 1.3 / 38%
- Magpie: 1.2 / 54%
Main image: Male blackbird. © Ray Kennedy/RSPB