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Housing killing off Sparrow - BTO

[Monday 20 August 2007]
House Sparrow under threat
House Sparrow under threat
Photo: RSPB

SCIENTISTS trying to discover what is killing off the English house sparrow, which has suffered a huge decline in recent years, say that Government plans for a huge house building programme will be yet another blow to the species.

House sparrow numbers have declined by up to 50% in some areas and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) says this will get worse if millions of homes are built as flats or houses so close together they will not have gardens.

The trust recently issued the result of a survey in towns and villages in which more than a thousand volunteers walked their local streets to count the number of house sparrows they could hear chirping away.

The findings are published in the Journal of Ornithology, which concludes: "When traditional suburban housing starts being replaced with continuous development (i.e. without gardens), house sparrow density falls rapidly.

"For example, when the area of flats exceeds that of houses with gardens, the sparrow density drops to a very low level and sparrows will probably disappear from the locale.

"Even a relatively small loss of private gardens has large effects on sparrow abundance, and continued loss of private gardens within urban landscapes could have serious consequences for the house sparrow population."

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