The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has announced the results of its 2018 Big Garden Birdwatch. The survey which asks members of the public to take an hour of their time to count the birds in their garden on a single day of the year has been running since 1979.
This year, 420,489 people from the UK submitted data, in what is one of the biggest citizen science projects.
House sparrows (Passer domesticus) remain the most common of our feathered friends to visit and live in our gardens, although overall numbers are down. Numbers of winter visitors such as Siskins (Carduelis spinus) and Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), both small, brightly coloured finches are on the rise. The number of Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) and Coal Tits (Periparus ater) is also up with recorded sightings of Goldfinches having risen by 11% from last year. All in members of the public counted 6,764,475 birds in their gardens.
Greenfinch numbers are also up by 5% on last year although that does not completely reverse the 60% decline since the Birdwatch began almost 40 years ago. Unfortunately, numbers for two of our most well-known and best-loved species, the Blackbird (Turdus merula) and the Robin (Erithacus rubecula) are down; by 18% and 12%, respectively. The RSPB blames the mild winter and poor breeding success in 2017 on the Blackbird’s year-on-year decline. Great Tits (Parus major) were counted in almost two-thirds of all UK gardens.