Half a million garden birders took part in this year’s annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey. The results are in, but they only tell half the story...
We were looking forward to seeing the survey results as the mild winter has presented new feeding opportunities to wild birds on bird feeders. The survey results come with a bit of a health warning however, as, at a glance, they disguise the true fluctuations in bird species populations.
For example, the third most common garden bird is our suet & mealworm loving friend the Starling. He may be common in gardens but he still features on the “red list” - because the population of Starlings has fallen by over 84% since 1979 (Source: RSPB).
Whilst Blue Tits, Goldfinches & Great Spotted Woodpeckers appear to be thriving in British gardens, the Robin continues its sad decline on the top 10 most common garden bird list, and is now in tenth position. The falling population of Robins is a subject that’s infrequently discussed - perhaps partly down to the fact that we focus on them being territorial and therefore only expect to see one or two (at best) in our gardens. The RSPB survey reminds us, though, that Robin populations have fallen by over 45% since 1979 (Source: RSPB).
The House Sparrow is now our most common garden bird; however, once again, its population has declined by over 62% since 1979. We therefore need to read the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey thinking about the bigger picture - which is that birds still need our help! However common they might (on the face of it) appear.
Our concern (as a bird-feeding community) is for all garden birds and the best way we (Haith’s) can support nature conservation is by providing the cleanest, safest high-quality bird food we can – direct from The Bird Food Centre in Lincolnshire.
We’re pleased that there appears to have been a deluge of more “natural” food available for wild birds due to the mild winter weather and we hope that means more birds will make it through to the breeding season! Time will tell, though, as sudden frosts may still present a challenge to garden birds as the mild temperatures may have triggered off earlier than usual breeding behaviour. Whatever the weather we can make life easier by providing high-quality, clean and nutritious foods.
Here are the top ten common birds. We’ve added a small piece about each and you can read more and find out what they eat by clicking on the link.
The Robin is a common favourite with most people and one of the easiest to recognise. It has a bright red breast, face, throat and cheeks edged with grey, has a white belly and brown upper parts. The juvenile Robin has speckled brown upper parts and has no red feathers. In the winter they are joined by immigrants from Scandinavia and Europe, which are slightly paler than our... [More]
9. Collared Dove
Easily identified by its fawn colouration with brown flight feathers, it has a narrow black collar around the nape but which is absent in juvenile birds. The Collared Dove has only been breeding in Britain since 1955 where it had spread its range from the Balkans. It can now be found throughout the country except in very hilly areas and is especially associated... [More]
8. Great Tit
The range of the Great Tit extends from Britain in the west through Europe and Asia as far as Java and the Lesser Sundas in Indonesia. The British race is recognised by its glossy black crown and pure white cheeks with a black band down the centre of its yellow under parts. The race in the... [More]
The Goldfinch is recognised from its bright red face, which contrasts strongly with the black and white head and yellow wing bars. Its mantle and flanks are a pale russet brown and under parts whitish. The flight feathers and tail are... [More]
Many of these will be Continental migrants that have come to Britain to escape the bitter European winters and will return as springtime approaches. Others may be those displaced from their previous feeding areas on stubble fields. When we examine our... [More]
The Woodpigeon is the most widespread of Britain's pigeons and considered a pest by many farmers for the damage it creates to agricultural crops. It will even mix with Feral Pigeons right into city centres exploiting almost anything offered in the form of seed or... [More]
The Blackbird is a member of the thrush family and is found throughout the British Isles, mainly in town parks and gardens. The Blackbird’s phrases are widely varied and rarely repeated. However, its alarm notes are loud and persistent if there are any... [More]
Britain's Starling population was once considered to be of pest proportions but it is no coincidence that it has become quite rare since drastic changes have taken place in farming practice. Habitually, the Starling once depended on feeding from stubble... [More]
2. Blue Tit
This small acrobatic species is easily identified, as it is the only British bird with a blue crown. It is a common (but always welcome) garden bird coming to bird tables and hanging feeders of all descriptions. It is very fond of peanuts and fat balls and at one... [More]
1. House Sparrow
This is another species that has declined catastrophically in the last few years and is now completely missing from areas where it was once the most common species around. Formerly, it exploited anywhere it could find spilled grain and was therefore commonly seen in large... [More]
Written by Angela and Chris