The results from the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 have been released, and show that house sparrows were once again seen in the highest numbers.


Running over the last weekend of January, this RSPB citizen science has been running for 41 years, and this year, almost half a million people took part.

There was an increase in sightings of smaller bird species such as long-tailed tits, wrens and coal tits, up by 14%, 13% and 10% on 2019 respectively.

The RSPB says this is due to the milder weather at the start of the year, as these small birds are more susceptible to cold weather.

Long tailed tit. © Nigel Blake/RSPB
Long tailed tit. © Nigel Blake/RSPB

“Small birds suffer during long, cold winters but the warmer January weather this year appears to have given species such as the wren and long-tailed tit a boost,” says RSPB conservation scientist Daniel Hayhow.

The three most commonly seen species were house sparrows with 1.3 million recorded sightings, followed by starlings and then blue tits.

“While the overall decline in house sparrow numbers, reported by participants, since the Big Garden Birdwatch began is 53% (1979 – 2020), in the most recent decade (2010-2020) numbers appear to have increased by 10%. Giving us hope that at least a partial recovery may be happening,” adds Hayhow.

Blue tit. © Ray Kennedy/RSPB
Blue tit. © Ray Kennedy/RSPB

The top 10 birds in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2020

Rank. Species - average per garden (% of gardens species recorded in 2020)

  1. House sparrow - 4.7 (64)
  2. Starling - 3.0 (38)
  3. Blue tit - 2.9 (80)
  4. Woodpigeon - 2.3 (76)
  5. Blackbird - 2.1 (85)
  6. Goldfinch - 1.7 (32)
  7. Great tit - 1.5 (58)
  8. Robin - 1.4 (83)
  9. Long-tailed tit - 1.3 (30)
  10. Magpie - 1.2 (55)


Main image: Male house sparrow. © Ray Kennedy/RSPB


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator