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RSPB survey shows change in garden bird populations

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch took place over the last weekend in January and this year almost half a million people took part across the UK counting an impressive 7.5 million birds.

The results are now in and reveal a mixed picture for our garden birdlife with 15 of the top 20 species returning fewer sightings in gardens across the country than in 2018.

The house sparrow held on to its number one spot, with more than 1.2 million recorded sightings, while the starling held down the second spot once more, with the blue tit moving up one to round off the top three.

However, there was a decrease in garden sightings of wrens – down by 17% in 2019 – and long-tailed tits – by more than 27% – two of the smallest species to visit our gardens. Populations of both species may have been affected by last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ as small birds are more susceptible to spells of cold weather. But it’s too early to say if this is a one year blip or the beginning of a trend.

Over its four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. It was first to alert the RSPB to the decline in song thrush numbers. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979. By 2009, its numbers were less than half those recorded in 1979, it came in at 20th in the rankings this year.

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 

To highlight the crisis that nature is facing and the loss of over 40 million wild birds from the UK in just half a century, the RSPB is releasing a specially-created track of birdsong titled ‘Let Nature Sing’. The single contains some of the most recognisable birdsongs that we used to enjoy, but that are on their way to disappearing forever, such as cuckoo, curlew, nightingale, crane and turtle dove who form part of the dawn chorus choir.

The single is available to stream and share from today and will help get birdsong into the charts for the first time, spreading the word that people across the UK are passionate about nature’s recovery. For more information visit

House sparrow – Ray Kennedy (

Main photo: Great tit – Grahame Madge (

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