The decline of the house sparrow in British gardens appears to be reversing, according to the latest RSPB national garden survey.
As well as a rise in house sparrows, the milder winter also brought long-tailed tits, wrens and coal tits to British gardens in huge numbers this year.
Nearly half a million people across the country took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch on 25-27 January and counted nearly 8 million birds.
The RSPB, which has run the event for 41 years, said the results showed much of the population kept in touch with nature by watching garden birds.
The house sparrow was the most counted visitor this winter with nearly 1.3 million sightings over the bird-watching weekend.
Since the Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 house sparrow numbers have declined by 53%. But in the past 10 years their numbers have begun to recover, with a 10% increase in sightings.
This year the house sparrow remained at the top of the rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird. Starlings were the second most sighted, followed by the blue tit.
Daniel Hayhow, an RSPB conservation scientist, said: “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. Over the survey’s lifetime, we’ve seen the increasing good fortunes of birds such as the coal tit and goldfinch and the alarming declines of the house sparrow and starling. But there appears to be good news for one of these birds … giving us hope that at least a partial recovery may be happening.”
More gardens reported seeing long-tailed tits, which were up 14%, while wrens were up 13% and coal tits up 10% in 2020 compared with 2019.
Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “Despite everything that’s going on in the world, nature is still doing its thing. Birds are singing and blossom is bursting. Watching wildlife, whether from a window or a balcony or even online, can offer many of us hope, joy and a welcome distraction, and so we are keen to help you carry on connecting with the natural world.”
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