Common sparrow still king of the garden, national bird count shows

Photo: Myukii/wikimedia commons
Photo: Myukii via Wikimedia Commons

Just over 135,000 people spotted 1,961,033 birds in the national bird count this weekend.

The common sparrow tops the list again, followed by the the great tit and the blue tit. The blackbird, which came third last year, has moved into fourth place but worries about dwindling figures in the last few years seem to have been mitigated.

‘Blackbirds uses to be spotted in nine out of 10 gardens but in 2017 and 2018 that went down to two thirds of gardens,’ urban bird expert Hanne Tersmette told the AD. The birds were also hit by the the Usutu virus which now seems to have run its course.

Tersmette said a campaign to ‘lift a garden tile’ to give the birds a chance to look for worms may also have helped.

Although the news for blackbirds is slightly better, the overall urban bird population is shrinking, research by Sovon bird monitoring organisation has shown.

The number of people taking part in the count fell 35,000 on last year, when coronavirus restrictions were still in force.

Despite the lower turnout, the annual count, based on half an hour of bird spotting in gardens or on balconies, is still the biggest citizen science project in the country.

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