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House Sparrow is top bird in North Yorkshire

[Thursday 23 March 2006]

The House Sparrow is the top bird in North Yorkshire's gardens according to the results of a massive survey released today (Thursday).

Detailed results from the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, held in January, reveal that Sparrows were top of North Yorkshire's garden bird league table. The Blackbird was in second place, with the Starling relegated to third position.

9, 500 twitchers make the House Sparrow North Yorkshire's top bird
9, 500 twitchers make the House Sparrow North Yorkshire's
top bird
Photo: RSPB

The annual RSPB survey aims to find the most commonly seen species and, importantly, helps identify the winners and losers of Britain's garden birds.

More than 9,500 people across North Yorkshire took part in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch; nationwide, a record-breaking 470,000 people watched their gardens and local parks during the survey on 28th and 29th January - making it the world's biggest bird survey. The previous record was held by the 2004 Birdwatch with 419,000 people taking part.

The regional findings are in line with the national result, where the house sparrow retained its top spot as the UK's most numerous garden bird. A staggering 8.1 million birds from 80 different species were spotted, ranging from the common Blackbird to the more unusual Blackcap.

The official Top Ten for North Yorkshire:

(Figures in brackets represent the average number of each species recorded per garden)

  1. House sparrow (5.10)
  2. Blackbird (3.39)
  3. Starling (3.33)
  4. Blue tit (2.99)
  5. Chaffinch (2.71)Greenfinch (2.07)
  6. Collared dove (1.71)
  7. Great tit (1.50)
  8. Dunnock (1.36)
  9. Robin (1.25).

The full Big Garden Birdwatch results are available on the RSPB website. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

In this year's survey unusual species were more frequent visitors to British gardens than ever before. Compared to last year's findings, the number of Siskins rose by 483 per cent and the number of Bramblings was up by 371 per cent, reflecting the importance of UK gardens for birds escaping the harsh winter weather on the continent.

The Blackbird was the most widespread species this year, recorded in 94 per cent of the 270, 000 gardens that were surveyed. Many people noted bigger numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush this year, an occurrence the RSPB puts down to the colder winter weather.

Other results from the survey show that the Greenfinch and Wren have both seen their numbers increase over the past 27 years by 67 and 140 per cent respectively. It is not all good news however; despite the House Sparrow retaining its top spot this year as the most common garden bird, its numbers are still massively down from the levels seen at the beginning of Big Garden Birdwatch, with an average of just 4.41 sparrows seen per garden this year, compared to an average of 10 in 1979 - a decline of 56 per cent.

Having dropped off the UK top spot in 2004, the Starling continued to decline in 2006, with numbers per garden down to a quarter of those recorded in 1979.

David Hirst of the RSPB's North England office, said: "This sort of survey helps us to understand more about the population trends of UK garden birds.

"Wild birds are an excellent indicator of the health of the environment and this survey produces a valuable snapshot of winter garden bird populations.

"It's fantastic that there is so much interest in the wildlife around us, with more people then ever enjoying the birds in their gardens. Even in the most built-up areas where you might not expect people to watch birds, Big Garden Birdwatch is extremely well supported."

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