Helping stem starling decline

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BIRD experts are taking urgent action to research the decline of the humble starling.

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch revealed falling numbers of the birds across the UK, with those recorded in Northumberland down 13 per cent on last year’s survey.

Nationally, there has been a decline of almost 80 per cent over the years, dropping from an average of 15 per garden in the 1979 survey to just three when it was conducted in January this year.

Starlings still rank as the third most common bird seen in Northumberland, but they were recorded in less than half of the county’s gardens.

Possible reasons for the decline include changes in the birds’ feeding habitats and changes beneath the soil, reducing their insect food.

RSPB scientist Mark Eaton said: “We’ve been monitoring the decline and encouraging people to step up and help birds like starlings, but we will also be conducting some scientific research into the exact reasons for these declines.

“It would be a tragedy if the numbers continue to plummet and we will do all we can to help stop this happening.”

Almost 600,000 people across the country took part in this year’s garden bird survey, recording more than nine million birds and more than 70 species.

The most common bird in Northumberland was the house sparrow, followed by the chaffinch, starling, blackbird and blue tit.

Completing the top ten were the great tit, goldfinch, woodpigeon, coal tit and robin.