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Record numbers flock to annual garden bird survey

It’s been a record-breaking year for the RSPB with over a million people taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 – double the number of those who participated the previous year.

The world’s largest wildlife survey – now in its 42nd year – encourages people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit our gardens across one weekend in January. The annual activity helps the RSPB to assess how our feathered friends are faring.

Over its four-decade history, the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world, with the results posted at this time each year.

Blackbird – 4th most spotted garden bird (Ray Kennedy / RSPB)

With many of us looking to nature for solace and inspiration following 12 months of lockdown, this year’s event has been the best received so far.

Over 17 million birds were counted over the Birdwatch weekend, revealing the house sparrow to once again be the most commonly seen garden bird, with more than 2.6 million recorded sightings.

The starling, however, slid from second place for the first time since 2010 – replaced by the blue tit – with 16 out of the top 20 bird species showing a decline in numbers compared to last year. Only robins, blackbirds, carrion crows and the song thrush saw an increase on 2020.

Further declines were recorded for greenfinch and chaffinch, with the lowest average for both types of bird ever recorded for Big Garden Birdwatch.

Robin – 6th most spotted garden bird (Andy Hay / RSPB)

For a full round-up of all the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results and to see which birds were visiting gardens where you live, visit

Main image:  House sparrow – most spotted garden bird 2021 (Ray Kennedy / RSPB)

RSPB Pocket Garden Birdwatch

RSPB Pocket Garden Birdwatch contains expert advice on how to provide water, food, and nesting sites to create a bird-friendly environment. It also reveals essential tips on observing birds, including the basic equipment needed.


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