It’s all change for garden visitors in annual bird survey

House sparrow, Passer domesticus, male, perched on stone in garden. Co. Durham. October.
House sparrow, Passer domesticus, male, perched on stone in garden. Co. Durham. October.

It’s been a mixed year for garden birds in Northumberland.

The results are in for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch survey, and there have been a number of changes in the list of the most common birds seen in the county.

The house sparrow remains the most common bird, with an average of 5.04 recorded per garden by those taking part in the January survey, an increase of 1.4 per cent on last year.

However, the bird remains on the ‘red list’ as numbers have declined nationally by 62 per cent since 1979.

The chaffinch climbed two places to claim second spot this year, with the previous occupier, the blackbird, dropping to third.

Blue tits moved up one place to fourth and starlings dropped from third in the list last year to fifth.

Goldfinches shot up 26 places to take sixth position, which scientists believe may be due to an increase in people providing food such as nyjer seed and sunflower hearts in their gardens.

Woodpigeons were seventh, followed by great tits, and the collared dove climbed three places to ninth, with the coal tit completing the top 10.

Overall, numbers of blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings spotted in gardens have dropped, but the RSPB believes it is due to the mild winter and they have been able to find natural food in the countryside without having to rely on food in gardens.

However, there is cause for alarm about starlings and song thrushes whose recorded numbers have dropped by 39 per cent and 95 per cent in Northumberland, and both are on the red list of the highest conservation concern.

The survey was carried out by 3,000 residents in Northumberland this year.

The Big Schools’ Birdwatch found blackbirds were the most common playground visitors.